The first step of Patterns for Kingdom Living is one you take on your own: downloading, completing and reflecting on the Gifts for Kingdom Living questionnaire.
The remaining steps are ones we encourage you to share with someone else.If you’re planning to stop at step 2, then have a short conversation with someone else. Talk to a friend, colleague, family member, church member or minister about what your gifts are, and what you think you do, or might do to make good use of them.
If you’re going on with your exploration, your second step is to find a Kingdom Companion.
Steps 3-5 of the longer route are particularly planned to work with a Kingdom Companion. (Step 3 of the shorter route simply completes step 2.)
So what is a Kingdom Companion?
Simply put, a Kingdom Companion is a fellow Christian who is simply there to listen to you, encourage you, and help you reflect. It may be your parish priest, one of your lay ministers, a friend or colleague, or someone else in your church who is a gifted listener. They are not a mentor, not a coach, not a spiritual director, nor any kind of advice giver!
The essential point about your Pattern for Kingdom Living is that it is yours, not someone else’s. Your Kingdom Companion may ask helpful questions, but they will mainly help you reflect on and deepen your own thinking, develop a pattern that is appropriate for you, and identify a realistic and doable next step (or steps).
Unless your Kingdom Companion is a personal friend, we envisage you will meet them in a public place rather than at home, for example, a meeting room at church or a convenient coffee shop. You may choose to have your conversations online (e.g. via Zoom) or by phone instead.
You will probably have an initial meeting for an hour or so, and then set up two, three, or four subsequent meetings at three- or four- month intervals. At the first meeting, they will support you as you decide what your next step(s) might be. At subsequent meetings they will listen to you as you talk about how your journey is going, and help you reflect on whether you need to make any adjustments to your pattern.
You establish whether you are going to set yourself a pattern for six months, in which case you might meet once in the middle and once at the end of the period, or for a year, in which case you will probably meet two or three times in the middle and finally at the end of the year.
Where will I find a Kingdom Companion?
If you feel you can approach someone you know reasonably well yourself, then please set it up with them as your own informal arrangement. If you feel you want to talk with one of your ministers to help find someone, then give them a call, or have a word when you’re next talking. If you’re not sure whom to talk to, and you’re in the diocese of Worcester, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to help.
Structuring a conversation with the Kingdom Companion
Once you’ve identified a Kingdom Companion, set up your conversation with them. To prepare for that conversation, you will need to:
Complete the Gifts for Everyday Faith Questionnaire
Ponder your own pattern, exploring some of the possible Ingredients for Kingdom Living.
The Initial Conversation
Assuming you are having a conversation of around an hour, spend approximately the first 15 minutes talking about what you discovered from the questionnaire about your gifts and strengths. Were there any surprises? Did it seem to you that there are areas where you have the gifts and strengths, but there never seems to be an opportunity to use them as a Christian disciple? Are there some you’d like to put to new use, whether in the practice of your everyday faith, or in relation to some church ministry or project?
Then move on to what you found when you started to explore some of the ingredients for kingdom living. Is your Christian life strongly focused on one of the three main areas highlighted, or quite balanced across all three? As you looked at some of the ingredients, did anything particular seem to speak to you, or jump out at you as “I’d like to try that” or “That’s definitely not for me”? Can you identify why you reacted like that, if that was the case? What of the practices explored there seem attractive to you, and why? Can you see something you’d like to try for the first time, or return to? Take around a half-hour for this part of the conversation.
In the last 15 minutes, see if you can focus on one or more things you’d like to try over the coming months. What’s realistic for you? What would you enjoy? What might be a stimulating challenge? Are you going to balance your steps across all three areas, or just pick one or two to go for? (There’s no right or wrong about this, it’s your choice, and your companion is only there to help you make a considered decision.)
Finally, write that step, or those steps down, and sign them. Either on your own or with your companion pray a suitable prayer, like the one provided on the form. Fix a time a few months ahead when you will meet for a shorter conversation to review how the journey is going.
The Review Conversations
We hope you and your Kingdom Companion will meet every three to four months over the course of the year, to reflect on how your journey is going. This is to look back at what has gone well, and see whether you would find it helpful to tweak anything as you move forward. At the end of the year, take stock of how you have found this journey, and where it has taken you.
A note for parishes and clergy
Parish clergy and other ministers may find it helpful to identify potential Kingdom Companions within their congregations, in case they are asked for help. Good candidates for the role will probably include clergy, Readers, and at least some ALMs. All of these will have already gone through safeguarding procedures. However, there may be a number of people who are gifted listeners and eminently sensible choices to act as Kingdom Companions.
What are appropriate safeguarding procedures for a Kingdom Companion?
First, we encourage all parishes to have this simple role description for a Kingdom Companion.
- To be a listener, not an adviser.
- To reflect, but not offer direction or guidance.
- To meet with the person you are accompanying once at the beginning and once at the end of the year’s, or half-year’s journey.
- For those making a six-month journey, to meet once in the middle of the journey, at around the three month interval.
- For those making a year’s journey, to meet at least twice, and no more than three times, in the middle of the journey, at intervals of around three-to-four months.
- To keep the conversation confidential, subject to the normal safeguarding exemptions about disclosure.
Second, where this is a new role a person is volunteering for rather than part of an existing role, safer recruitment procedures should be followed. In particular,
- The incumbent should be satisfied that they know the person sufficiently to write a reference for them, or that they have a reference from another ministerial colleague in the benefice.
- There should be one other reference from another person.
- The person should complete a confidential declaration, which will be kept together with the reference(s), by the Parish Safeguarding Officer.