‘There are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.’
‘You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.’ (2 Corinthians 3.2-3)
As the church of Jesus Christ we have two stories to tell: the story of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection; and the continuing story of what Jesus has done through his church, including what he is doing in our lives now by the power of the Spirit. That’s Living Christ’s Story.
Could it be that this understanding of ourselves as people who are called to be part of the story of God’s love, living and sharing that story with others, might draw us together, give fresh impetus to our mission, and enable us to find other new and inspiring ways to share the story with others?
This is a time to celebrate all the good things that are happening in this Diocese of York, and to breathe new life into our vision.
For the last few years we’ve been speaking in terms of our goals, to
- Reach people we currently don’t
- Move to growth
- Establish sustainable giving
But ‘sustainable’ could be heard as keeping things as they are, and if we think for a moment, we’ll realise that some things need to be different. Church life — ministry and mission — are evolving, and we can expect for example that in the future there will be a bigger emphasis on lay and volunteer ministries, and an online presence. We’re learning new insights through the nationally-supported Multiply and Mustard Seed initiatives, growing new worshiping communities, and identifying and resourcing people for new kinds of ministries.
We have to be realistic about our financial situation. Since Free Will Offer was introduced, the total amount given by parishes — whilst there have been examples of much generosity — has remained flat, and not kept pace with inflation. Support for our general costs from the national church has been tapering down. We’ve managed by under-investing in some of the initiatives we’d want to take. It can’t be emphasised enough that giving fresh impetus to our vision absolutely isn’t all about money, but we do need to transform our diocesan finances — income and expenditure — in order to be the diocese, active in mission, that we want to be.