Thursday, 4 February 2010

How connected are we? 2

How connected are we?

This is the second in a series of posts asking the question ‘How connected are we?’ As I said in my previous post these items are based on my own observations and relate to the position as I see it in and around Walsall. It is unfortunate that some of this might come across as fairly negative but I intend to make the final posts in the series far more positive.

How connected are we as a Circuit?

Another interesting question which may have a range of different answers depending on the circuit but in our circuit I think I would have to say we are not very well connected.

Circuit events are generally not very well attended with the exception of the annual circuit carol service but even this will see the same folk turn out each year. We tried some alternative circuit services a while back which were not at all well attended and one church organised their own services on the same night using the reason that some of their folk only went to church on Sunday evenings so they would not be able to go if there was no service. Not sure I understand that reason when there was a circuit service they could attend and who knows they might even enjoy it.

Recognition services for local preachers which I always hope will attract a larger turn our given the work that our preachers do tend not to be well attended, even when there is a three line whip from the circuit leadership team and good publicity from the preachers meeting.

Circuit meetings are generally well attended but these will often be the folk that are very active in the local situations – it is not often you see a new face and I do realise that some may say this is because of the lack of members in our churches and their advancing years. I am not sure about this particular answer being valid – perhaps we should be encouraging our members a little more and perhaps even challenging the status quo that exists in some places and has done for many years.

One of the other things I often hear is about travelling and how difficult it is to get from one end or side of the circuit to the other. The distance between our two furthest churches is just 7.9 miles so it is not exactly a million miles and while I realise public transport is not fantastic most churches have a number of people with cars who could offer lifts if we were connected on the local level. If events are planned at Central Hall in Walsall then the two churches the furthest away from there are only 3.4 and 4.5 miles, so again not an insurmountable distance.

I have tried to identify some positives in how well we connect but it is not at all easy – my next post will look at the district so again I am not expecting any great amount of positivity.


Rev Tony B said...

There are rural miles, and there are townie miles. I grew up on Tyneside, and my first appointment was there. I reckoned any preaching trip of more than 3 miles was a missionary expedition. Then I went to North Northumberland - my section was 8 miles in one direction, 5 in the other, and my nearest colleague was 15 miles away at the alleged centre of the circuit. I've served in rural appointments ever since, although this one is really urban ribbon development along the river valley from Halifax. It tickles me to hear folk say "But it's such a long way from Todmorden to Halifax..." (11 miles - I did it in 25 minutes one day, during rush hour.) Ah, well...

More important question about the relationship between circuit and local church - what is the circuit actually for? We are setting up a new circuit to begin in September, so we started with that question. SOs say that the circuit is the primary unit of mission (because that's where ministers are stationed, etc). I disagree (cries of 'heresy!") - I think the circuit is the primary resourcer of mission, but the primary unit of mission is the local church or groups of churches. That seems to be where the rubber hits the road. So the function of the circuit is more to give to the churches than require from the churches - perhaps circuit services may no longer be appropriate. Or should be more regular, but travel around the circuit, so that everyone feels that they're helping each other to celebrate and be encouraged.

I have no idea how things do or could work in Walsall. I just wonder whether the (lack of) connectedness you describe may be because the circuit needs to ask itself questions about how it works.

Archie said...
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David said...

Ian, looks like you've got a spam email.

Not got time to comment on the post but I wanted to comment on the new picture - makes you look like a character out of the Godfather, all you need is a pair of shades to finish it off!

Fat Prophet said...

Thanks Tony for another interesting response - aren't rural miles the ones that are each three miles long? I think you raise some interesting points here.

David thanks for the tip off.