“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.
We’re called to be Christ-centred — inspired by God’s saving love that we see in Jesus Christ — and Jesus shaped, forming our lives on him as our example. It would be good to see our diocese developing into:
- a church of missionary disciples
- a church where ‘mixed ecology is the norm’… This will flow from healthy, flourishing parish ministry. But it will embrace digital; and, we hope, that many other types of church will flourish, not least chaplaincy;
- a church that is younger and more diverse.
None of this works or makes sense, unless it inspires, shapes and informs the life of the church in our parishes, church plants, chaplaincies, fresh expressions, Multiply and Mustard Seed ministries, messy church, refugee ministry, church schools, food banks and in whatever other ways we live and share the gospel in this Diocese of York. We shall have a clear commitment to people and communities living with deprivation.
Our task as the people of God, here and now, is to share the story of Christ by letting God write that story on our own hearts and by writing the next chapter of all that Jesus is going to do here. This is about church being simpler in our systems and structures to serve our mission; humbler because we must acknowledge our failures and live within our means; and bolder because the things entrusted to us in Christ are what the world needs.
So, putting all that vision together, here is a way that we can ‘re-boot’ our diocesan goals:
- Becoming more like Christ – which means receiving and knowing the story ourselves.
- Reaching people we currently don’t.
- Growing churches of missionary disciples
- Transforming our finances and structures so that together we can support a presence in all the neighbourhoods and networks of the Diocese.
During the first part of 2021, the bishops and archdeacons will meet with Deanery Leadership Teams to begin a consultation about how we can apply this ‘re-booted’ vision at a local level and take it forward. Parishes will also be receiving a letter of invitation to take part, and the material will be available on the diocesan website at www.dioceseofyork.org.uk/living-christs-story.”