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Monday, February 22, 2010

2010 Lenten Study 2

The Purpose Driven Church: A Lenten Study
Part Two of The Purpose Driven Church  looks at becoming a Purpose Driven Church. The author looks at what drives your Church, the Foundations for a healthy Church, defining your purposes, organizing around your purposes and applying your purpose.

We have done some of this already at St. James ... defining purpose. Once that is done, however, it is important to communicate the purpose, organize around that and apply those purposes.

I encourage study groups to apply the relevant information to St. James. This week, I am asking the study groups to consider this question:

There are five kinds of Churches listed on page 122. After consideration, what kind of Church are we at St. James?

You may also want to consider the role of the pastor in answering this question.

Add your thoughts here for the other groups, or interested parishioners, to comment on, and develop a conversation.


  1. We began by agreeing St. James was both an Experiencing-God Church and a Family church. It is not a Classroom Church, which some of us regret, though most rectors make sure to include new knowledge in sermons. It was mentioned that Anglican services did not provide the same freedom for ministers to conduct Educational Series of Sermons such as are mentioned in the book, since the services of the Anglican church are very much bound by the liturgy of the church year.

    We agreed we must now stress the “Soul-Winning” aspect of our church. One member cited instances of recent new members joining of the church, and how important these new members have been. It was helpful and hopeful to discuss this.

    In terms of Social Consciousness, we noted that our former rector was very much in the habit of bringing in social issues, and how our weekly prayers of the people currently reflect up-to-date connection with social issues. A book by two seminarians, called The Last Week, was mentioned, stating that sound worship has to be rooted in an awareness of social justice, that God can only recognize this type of worship. We found this a very interesting idea.

    We then considered the role of our current pastor in shaping our church focus.

    We could identify many of our rector’s actions as reflecting the “Soul-Winning” mission. He models for us the creation of opportunities for new people to attend church functions (for instance, Christmas with the Rector and the Rector’s Lenten Fair), as well as much encouragement of programs more loosely connected with the church (Happy Mike’s and the Lighthouse program). It was also mentioned that Father Murray brings a very special and personal connection with the aboriginal community. Social Issues are a very real part of almost all sermons. He has encouraged the Classroom aspect by ensuring that these Lenten Discussion groups have been created. We are very glad, however, that he recognizes the importance to us of the Experiencing-God and Family aspects of church. We noted how much of his time he has devoted to getting to know us and how we interact together, both inside and outside the church services. Many, many very appreciative comments were made as we discussed “the role of the pastor”!

    We wondered if #3 had a kind of “exclusionary” tone to it. We wondered if in fact we were always as warm and welcoming to outsiders as we should be. Some felt we were, some did not. Certainly we agreed it was everyone’s responsibility to work on this.

    Three important issues emerged from the discussion, and some time was spent on each.

    1. Meeting the Changing Needs and Life-Styles of the Community: This continues to trouble us, how it can be done when we ourselves belong to a different generation from the young people and even from the new kinds of families in the community. Warren encourages us to adjust to change and to be ready to embrace new needs and interests and incorporate them in worship forms and practice. It was stressed that everything, even the small things, such as musical tastes and abilities or teenage social needs and interests. can become avenues for church development. We need to watch for changes and the ways in which we can make connections with them. This calls for hope and faith and patience, not to mention openness to what is going on around us.

    2.Becoming a Purpose-Driven Church: We noted how very relevant our Mission Prayer is, and how it incorporates just about everything we would hope to be and do.

    3.Soul-Winning: We reviewed our attitudes to evangelism, and agreed that we are all most comfortable in modeling rather than instructing the kinds of attitudes and behaviour that we see as Christian, and showing in our lives how faith enriches us.

    We finished by listing ideas for the development of our mission: a lunch program; collaborating with one or more other churches in community based action; teaching life skills, like sewing, knitting, cooking, nutrition, managing a budget; a clothing exchange; a drop-in centre for pre-school children and their parents.

  2. Thanks for the very insightful comments. I would agree with the assessment of the type of church we are.

    Thank you for your comments about the rector. I hope to be able to use my gifts of writing, preaching, teaching and pastoral care to build up the church, but this obviously will require assistance. I am thrilled with the amount that turned out to do this study for example. Thanks for the mention of the aboriginal community. If our church is open, there are many opportunities here, such as a Gospel Jamboree and Gospel Coffee House. I already have the contacts to make this a reality. I am still fairly new to St. James but my family and I have appreciated the support and prayers thus far. Now, on the issues raised:

    1. This is a good attitude toward the young. There is incredible potential here. If we are open to supportive encouraging leadership, the youth may welcome the opportunity. You will see this reflected in the coming days as we host a youth concert at St. James and Friday evening concerts. The youth will see our facility as a place where they are welcome and loved unconditionally. So far, so good. The best thing we can do is respond when we are invited to a gathering organized by the youth. As well, we can continue to pray, and involve our young people.

    2. The Mission Prayer is relevant. You can tell a lot of thought and effort went into producing it. As we repeat this week after week, we take ownership of the very essence of who we are at St. James. So far, I'd say we are doing a good job at that.

    3.Modeling is important, and as we continue to educate ourselves, we will grow deeper in faith. Witnessing to our God does not always have to be with words, though the telling of our story can dramatically impact others. It has been said that for some you may be the only Bible they will ever read.

    Great ideas for mission. I am particularly drawn to the life skills area. Perhaps in the library we are creating, we can have life skills bags that contain relevant material on family matters. This is one suggestion. There are many more we can come up with. I look forward to working with the Program and Planning Committee on moving us ahead on vision.

    Again, good work and I look forward to reading your next responses.

    Father Murray+