It’s a Saturday morning in October and a group of Christians are gathering in Telford, Shropshire.
Why? Because Church Mission Society is running a mission training workshop, organised by All Saints Wellington and open to churches across the Telford Christians Together network.
There are a few church leaders present, but they are not the primary attendees. The day is designed for anyone in the local congregations because, after all, we all have a part to play in God’s mission.
As one participant, Alwyn Jones, puts it, “I came along because it would encourage me to reflect on what God was calling me to do in support of the community, and to demonstrate God’s love.”
Nick Brooke, mission enabler for All Saints Wellington, explains how the day came about: “In Telford there is a strong Churches Together network. Through conversations there it became apparent that, although we were all speaking the same language and assumed everyone meant the same thing in regards to mission, what it meant to be missional was different to different people.
“At the same time I was thinking of putting together a training day for our congregation, but came across an advert from CMS. It seemed perfect and at a reasonable price and could accomplish a whole lot more than I could have done alone.”
So what does the workshop consist of? A number of mission concepts are covered throughout the day including the idea of Missio Dei (the mission of God), the importance of “being” and a focus on identifying the assets in our community rather than the deficits.
But it’s not just nice theoretical ideas – there’s plenty of practical application through the use of maps of the local area and case studies from the UK and around the world. Above all it’s an interactive participatory experience with lots of opportunity for people to share and discuss ideas and local knowledge.
Chris Densham from River Community Church commented, “I’ve loved the interactive element of it, the fact that it hasn’t just been presentation from the front. Sometimes interactive things don’t reinforce what you’re learning, but today it has!”
So why is CMS running these workshops? John Orchard from the church relations team explains:
“At CMS there is a wealth of knowledge from over 200 years of mission experience.
“Some people are able to access this through programmes such as our pioneer training courses and the Partnership for Missional Church process, but we wanted to offer something that everyone can access as a way of introducing them to some of the mission thinking that is core to CMS.
“We don’t pretend to solve churches’ problems, or even tell them what they should be doing, but hopefully we can help congregations to look at things from a different perspective and ask some new questions.”
The workshop was back in October, but what has happened in Telford since then? We caught up with Nick Brooke: “After Christmas we plan to get those who attended back together. I’ve kept the maps we used at the workshop so that we can look for the places where God is at work in our local community.
“People can struggle to answer the question of ‘what is God up to?’ So we need to equip the church to discern that – to focus on that question and take church services out of the equation. People are definitely thinking about this.”
And what advice would Nick give to other churches who are wanting to do something similar?
“I would highly encourage using the workshop training. I enjoyed the process; I approached CMS a few months before the day, they stayed in touch and asked the right questions to find out where the church was at to make the training most effective. It felt tailored and the team used resources to bring what was needed. No church has that capacity to do this, so it’s a huge help.”