For congregations in which Baby Boomers and the previous generation form the majority of the membership, Fresh Expressions Canada’s “Reimagining Church: shaped for mission” course is an indispensable tool in your ministry toolbox! Since 2013 it has been, downloaded over 1300 times, taught several times by at least three Toronto area bishops, contextualized for use in the Maritimes, and used effectively by churches of seven or eight different denominations. The course is a tool to facilitate a much needed conversation about the changes the Baby Boomer and previous generations of Christians have experienced and how they have responded.
What is “Reimagining Church: shaped for mission”? The five session freely downloadable course was developed by John Bowen of Wycliffe College, in 2013. “Reimagining Church: shaped for mission is for those who know something is wrong and want to understand what can be done about it. The first three sessions look at changes in our culture, the spiritual resources the church has to respond to the challenges, and what it means these days to be a ‘Christian’. Then participants explore some of the ways churches are already changing and adapting in order to be more effective. Finally, we consider what this might mean in our own situations.” It has since been downloaded over thirteen hundred times, and has been used “as is” and in adapted forms by churches throughout the country. For more information visit http://www.freshexpressions.ca/project/reimaginingchurch/
Since October 2015 in the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, “Reimagining Church: shaped for mission” course*, has been successfully presented in eight different parishes and regional ministries. Earlier in that year I was hired by then Bishop Barry Clarke, who had been impressed by the Toronto’s area bishops’ experience with using the course, as Bishop’s Missioner for Reimagining Church (one quarter time) to present the course around the diocese.
Courses have been successfully run in:
- The Laurentian Regional Ministry
- St. Andrew & St. Mark, Dorval
- St. Barnabas, Pierrefonds, and Christ the Redeemer Lutheran, DDO
- St. Joseph of Nazareth, Brossard
- St. Lawrence, Lasalle
- St. Michael and All Angels, Pierrefonds
- St. Paul’s, Greenfield Park
- St. Peter’s, TMR
Well over one hundred and twenty people, including the wardens of the parishes involved, participated in the course. Participant evaluations were completed for each course and the results studied by the parish clergy and myself.
A consultation with clergy leaders from all the parishes and ministries involved as well as our Bishop, Executive Archdeacon, Diocesan Missioner, and an ecumenical observer took place in early May, where the usefulness of the course was evaluated and necessary next steps were considered. One participant wrote, “I like that this course has made people rethink what church is and what they have to do,” another wrote “I like that our diocese is putting much effort now into vision for missional change.” A third wrote, “I wish the whole parish had been there.” The group felt that the course enabled their members to have conversations about many of the changes that the majority of them have experienced and how those changes have affected, and continue to affect, our understanding and experience of being church. It was felt that just about every parish in the diocese would benefit from doing this course.