To Live & Work for
His Praise & Glory
The Holme Valley Church Conference held in June 2012
A summary of key points from Bob Jackson’s sessions
This short booklet is an attempt to present the main points of Bob Jackson’s teaching during the Conference of 8th-10th June 2012.
It does not claim to represent all of Bob Jackson’s views or to reflect the nuances of what he had to share with over 100 delegates that weekend.
It’s aim is to communicate the essence of his message , as a reminder for those who came, and as a catch up for those who didn’t.
It is not the last word, but a timely one on our Christian journey; to live and work for the praise and glory of Him who is the Last Word.
Please pray, read and reflect on this booklet, discuss and wrestle with the issues Bob raises, and more than that; as a result be prepared try new things so that God may be known, loved and glorified through His church, through us!.
Now is the time to listen to what God is saying to the church in this valley right now in the second decade of the 21st century. Now is the time to rediscover Jesus’ command to go; to love God and love others, to be His body in the world, to make disciples of all peoples.
Now is the time to work together ‘for His Praise and Glory.’
Session 1: Vision and Hope (Friday evening)
1. Culture has been and is changing rapidly over the past few decades. This is a move from modernity to postmodernity:
From shared truth to personal truth, from shared beliefs to each person choosing their own beliefs and finding their identities in what they buy. This is seen in a suspicion of authority and tradition, a sense of individualism rather than community, materialism, hedonism and fuzzy boundaries To summarise the move is from truth as fact to truth as experience. Some of us are still in the way of thinking as defined by modernity, others fully post modern, but many of us a mix- ture of the two. What is undeniable is that the way emerging generations think and behave both new and distinct.
2. What does this mean for the church?
What is our deep motivation?
a. Church life must centre on supplying us with exactly what we want. Music, worship and social life must make us feel good.
B. Church is a community where together we live and work for Jesus’ praise and glory. It looks outwards as its focus
Which type of Christian are you?
Most of us have elements of both, the second is harder and often much less of a focus for many: this is the focus of the weekend.
3. The Church has an image problem. We are widely seen as:
· Institutional and inward looking
· Dull and boring
· Intellectually weak
· Torn apart by conflict
Other image problems…….
¨ Many see Jesus as interesting but not the church
¨ The church is exploitative and untrustworthy
¨ It makes truth claims so it is narrow minded
¨ Morally inferior
¨ Religion is the cause of conflicts and is dangerous
4. We can no longer see ourselves as a pastoral church simply caring for a Christian nation.
5. Now we have to be a missionary church reaching a post-Christian culture
6. There is hope. We know Jesus draws people to himself and grows his church today because some churches are growing!
The local church often has a better image than the national one. There are lots of grounds for hope if we catch the vision of what God wants to church to be!
7. Modern life is busy, busy, busy!
· Many are neutral about us, but apathetic.
· They see church as a leisure pursuit which is not for them
· Their lives are busy and stressed, believe church has nothing for them.
· Little sense of sin or mortality
· They invest everything in this and feel no need of God—or do they?
· How do people deal with anxiety, illness or bereavement?
8. Other positives in the picture
· People on a spiritual search, open to discussion
· Church can offer community to a dislocated society
· Healthy churches feel good to belong to
· Belonging often comes before belief.
· Some churches are developing appropriate cultures
9. Three questions people may have about the Christian faith:
Is it true? (answered by the expert)
Does it work (answered by testimony; life stories)
How does it feel? (answered by the way the church community is)
10. Change from ‘Come to us’ to ‘Go to them’ mission. Many will not come near a church if they can help it.
What works today? A few ideas
· New ways of worshipping
· Nurture courses (Alpha, Y Course, Start etc.)
· New times and days for worship
· Back to church Sunday (based on friendship)
11. Eight Changes that Lead to church growth:
· Planting new congregations
· Making worship less formal, more relaxed
· Better provision for children and young people (family services, children’s groups etc.)
· Improving welcome and integration
· Better quality music, more varied incl. contemporary forms
· Better small groups and care
· Improvements to buildings
· More lay involvement in leadership
12. There is plenty of hope, but we cannot just repeat what we have always done.
Doing what you’ve always done and expecting things to change is akin to madness!
We need a vision for the future
13. What is vision and why is it so important?
· Vision is about looking and seeing clearly
· Vision is seeing clearly where we are and having a clear picture of where we want to get to.
· Need to seek a vision for the future from God
· We are lost and going nowhere without a vision for the future
· Hope is a well grounded expectation that vision can become reality. It is grounded on God and experience (churches do grow)
· Vision is about reality, keeping feet on the ground—survival
· Dreams and head in the clouds—revival
· This is all about a sense of reality and honesty and about faith in a God who is greater than us.
Session 2: Maintenance and Mission (Sat a.m. 1)
Are you a ‘magic roundabout church’ or a ‘gospel train church’
A magic roundabout church does nothing but follow the church calendar in the same way, year in year out.
A gospel train church is on a journey, it knows where it is going, it has purpose and vision for the future.
A healthy mission focused church will celebrate the church calendar, but it will be driven by the mission God has given it. The journey it is on and it’s vision for the future will be central.
Becoming a Mission church
This involves a big change in attitude; moving from maintenance to mission.
These are not measured by two scales to compare; how good at maintenance we are? or how good at mission we are?, are not the questions to ask.
They key question is : Are we driven by God’s mission to the world, or are we driven by keeping things going?
A mission church will also do maintenance well; a maintenance church will not be able to do mission well.
What drives a church, at it’s heart, is the key!
The 7 P’s of a maintenance church
· Paying the bills
· Preserving the buildings
· Playing the annual round
· Protecting the past
· Pleasing the insider
· Prioritising the present
· Pretending it’s not happening
Not all of these are bad things at all, but become so if they remain what a church is all about.
Jesus was a man on mission—are we?
John 3: 16
· God loves the world
· God invested himself in the world
· God wants to rescue the world
· This is not our mission, but God’s (Missio Dei)
Leaders for maintenance
· Pastoral/pastoral activities are main focus
· Tradition friendly worship
· Strategy based on what was done in the past
· Institutional and disappearing
· Key question here is ‘how do we keep going?’
The 7 P’s of a Mission Church:
· Planning a strategy
· Praying for growth
· Presenting the gospel
· Prioritising the outsider
· Participating in the wider community
· Pioneering new ways
· Planting new Christian communities
Leaders for mission
· Evangelistic activities
· User– friendly worship
· Strategy is based on what we need to do now
· See church as a movement not an institution
· Key question: how do we start growing?
Session 3: Becoming a Mission Church (Sat a.m. 2)
· Mission churches do not neglect maintenance
· In fact, they usually do it better
· More people, more energy, bigger budgets, better motivation
· But mission, not maintenance pre-occupies minds and fills agendas
· Give voice to new people and experiences
· Build collaboration with other churches
· Believe Jesus promises, Acts 1:8. God will give us the power of His Spirit!
· Think of a people group you want to reach
· How are you trying to reach them? Is it working?
· Carry on? Modify approach? Try something new?
· Is it easy to stop things or change direction? (it needs to be)
We need a balanced strategy of 2 approaches:
· Pro-active, changing the circumstances
· Working to future goals
· Discovering God’s vision for the future
· Recruiting, training, developing others
· Planning ahead and seeing the big picture
· Reactive, responding to human need
· Seeing what God is doing
· Seeing the existing partners and resources
· Week to week planning
· Seeing the small details
A healthy, growing church will find a balance of these 2 approaches.
What will a balanced mission strategy look like?
The 4 P’s:
1. Prayer: Church is rooted in the prayer of the leader, the leadership team and the congregation
2. Presence: The church makes its presence felt; it is known and engaged in the community and in people’s lives.
3. Proclamation: We need to take presence to the next stage and ‘name the name’ proclaiming the gospel in large and small evangelistic activities and church services
4. Persuasion: 1to 1 or in small groups, accompanying people on their faith journeys as they explore the big questions in life.
Where are the opportunities? A few ideas:
We are in touch with hundreds if not more people each year, how can we move beyond presence to proclamation?
· Christmas services (huge potential)
· Follow up with a nurture course (to explore big issues) in January
· Do we make the most of family services and baptisms to communicate the good news about Jesus?
· Guest services with particular themes?
· Debates on big issues (science & religion?)
· Pram services? Messy Church? Other services aimed at particular groups?
· Persuasion comes to the fore once the good news about Jesus has been proclaimed and gives people the opportunity to explore issues and raise questions over a period of time (Alpha? Y Course? Start? 1 to 1 conversations?)
· Persuasion is all about accompanying people on the journey. Not beating them into submission.
· Personal invitation to anything is absolutely essential!
· Welcome and then nurture is crucial as most people who try out a church don’t stay (only 12% do!)
During the conference there were 5 workshops available to attend on the following themes:
· Nurture Courses
· Messy Church
· Reaching young people 20-40
· Missionary Worship
The key findings of these workshops will be communicated by those who attended them. Our aim is to pool knowledge, experience and interest in the team so as to enable new things to happen in our churches. There are tentative plans to follow up each of these workshops in the future.
Our task now, as a team and as parishes is to discern God’s vision for the future (rather than what we might find comfortable). We must remember that a healthy church does a few things and does them well, not spreading ourselves too thinly. At the same time we must remember that a healthy, mission focused church does try new things. It cannot stand still or it will die—this has been proven over and over again throughout this country and beyond.
Bob’s talks are available to listen to on these websites:
YouTube videos with Bob’s talks accompanied by his slides can be viewed at:
Our task now is to pray, to dream dreams, to seek God and let him give us clear sight (vision) for the future. It is then to courageously step out in faith, trying new things and trying again if things don’t work out. May God be with us as we do so…….
Hope for the Church (Church House Publishing, 2002)
Going for Growth (Church House Publishing, 2005)
The Road to Growth (Church House Publishing, 2006)
Everybody Welcome (course) (Church House Publishing, 2009)
Building Missionary Congregations Church House Publishing, 1996)
The Healthy Churches Handbook (Church House Publishing, 2004)
Developing Healthy Churches (Church House Publishing, Aug. 2012)
Nurture courses you may want to have a look at include:
The Y Course
Start (and it’s follow up discipleship course, ‘Moving On’)
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