Minister's Letter - July/August 2019

Dear friends,

Last week I went to a conversation in Methodist Church House for ministers of larger churches. Chandler’s Ford is one of the larger churches in the Connexion, not because of our membership (which is somewhere around 315), but because there are over 150 people worshipping in the Church each week. The churches represented there were from all over the country, from almost completely black churches in London, to almost completely white churches in Plymouth, Salisbury, Stoke on Trent and Harpenden – the largest Methodist Church in the country. The convenor was Rev Trey Hall, the Director of Evangelism and Growth, in the Connexional Team. It was a really helpful day and it will be repeated.

We talked about the challenges and joys of being Ministers in large churches, about their relationship with the circuits of which they are a part, and about the particular skill-set required by Ministers of large churches. We learnt that there is no single recipe for a growing church. Churches grow when there is a combination of:

• Good leadership

• A clear mission and purpose – that includes engaging people who are not currently part of the life of the church – and following up newcomers

• A willingness to self-reflect, to change and adapt

• The involvement of lay members – including children and teenagers

• Being intentional – about prioritising growth, choosing worship styles, and in nurturing disciples

If we’re to reverse the decline of Chandler’s Ford Methodist Church, these are some of the things we need to work on together. The purpose of the new Leadership Team is to take leadership on these issues. But if it’s to do that, it will also need the support of the wider congregation in being willing to reflect on how we are as a church, to change and to adapt to the circumstances in which we find ourselves – in the church and the wider world – in 2019 and beyond. This may well be challenging, because few of us like change, especially if it involves giving up or changing things we’ve found comforting. Yet if we want our Church to not simply survive but thrive, we need to be open to it. The church, as I’ve said before, is the one institution that exists for the people who do not yet belong to it. How can we become open to them?

This is one of the questions that the Circuit Review questions are intended to prompt? Has your house or fellowship group considered these yet? There is still time and we want to hear as many people’s voices as possible!

Please do respond to them – they were in last month’s Link.

With good wishes, Sue.