Today we pray for the parish of St Thomas Becket Chapel en the Frith and its clergy, PCC and congregation
Getting In To Shape
We live in a world where many people place a high premium on ‘getting into shape’. Dieting, training, exercise – there are plenty of paths and numerous advocates. The aim is to be fit for purpose – in body and mind: that is, externally as we present to others, and internally in terms of mental wellbeing.
This important endeavor by individuals also applies to institutions – families, groups, businesses – even the Diocese of Derby!
As a Diocese we need to take seriously the challenge to be in good shape.
Externally, in our own ways of operating to offer worship and witness, we have to assess the effectiveness of our own efforts. In our current thinking we are considering an 80/40 dieting and exercise regime! That is, of the 120 full-time incumbency type posts that account for much of our budget and of our resource for public ministry, we are looking to earmark 80 to maintain the parochial system – which is the backbone of how we offer worship and witness in every community.
However we want to free up 40 of these core posts to be deployed in more imaginative and flexible ways, so as to offer ministry and mission in the networks and changing groups that contemporary people live within. It will be for each Deanery to look at possibilities. Some of the 40 posts may be kept to provide parochial ministry and mission, but it is our hope that most of them can be used to increase the range of our offer of the Gospel – to enable us to get into better shape.
But – none of this external reshaping will be blessed and fruitful unless we work equally hard to find the right diet and exercise for our inner lives – our sense of God’s presence and power and our commitment to the way of Jesus Christ.
Lent provides a special opportunity for a renewal of spiritual discipline and training, in our own lives, and in our church groups too. I have produced a small book to encourage this vital aspect of our getting into shape. The Challenge of Our Christian Calling. It is designed to help us seek renewal in our inner lives, to better enable our public worship and witness to be more effective. It is available from the Cathedral Bookshop for £5 a copy – proceeds go to our Harvest Appeal. The book can be used by individuals or small groups.
We all need to renew our efforts to get into shape. Externally and internally. I hope that as we prepare for Lent, and then observe this holy season of shaping, we can think, pray and act radically, going an extra mile to enable God to bless our worship and witness anew, and to renew the inner sense of call and commission upon which the work of our Diocese depends.