The overall vision is to see the further establishment of the kingdom of God in the Humber to the Wash region such that the region is transformed by the love and power of God. To see the kingdom further established could be expressed as:
- people entering the kingdom and joining the kingdom community;
- communities of the kingdom set within the communities of our area, living out kingdom values and demonstrating the life of the kingdom;
- the values of the kingdom becoming the foundations of society and so changing culture.
Expressed for around 30 years by Stuart Bell, leader of Ground Level Network:
- to see from the Humber to the Wash a Christian cell in every village, a congregation in every town and a celebration in the city;
- a strategic church planting approach (cells and/or congregations) will, by God's grace, help towards the accomplishment of this objective.
- mission focus;
- whole-church strategy with kingdom focus;
- synergy between planting and renewal;
- variety of models to maximise effectiveness and access;
- benefits of regional approach;
- responsible planting;
- planting from life;
- planting for the future;
- planting not the entire 'answer'.
Six integrated tracks
1. Leadership and vision
This was slow work at first. Churches Together in All Lincolnshire (CTAL) Presidents warmly received the strategy in 2003, but no substantive engagement emerged till the publication of the Mission-shaped Church report (MSC). However the vision has been subsequently presented via:
- review days;
- conversations with permission givers, etc.
Mission-shaped Church sparked change in the main denominations. An Anglican, then ecumenical team was formed, chaired by the Diocesan Bishop, John Saxbee. This team has taken forward:
Developments have included:
- one deanery half-time fresh expressions appointment;
- an appointment in 2009 of an Anglican Diocesan Fresh Expressions Enabler for one day per week;
- a Diocesan synod presentation in November 2008;
- a meeting of denominational leaders to discuss and synergise their mission plans for the county in December 2009;
- an initial prayer team to cover the early development of the strategy;
- encouragement for each new fresh expression to have a prayer 'shield';
- key fresh expressions events and issues in the county are entered into denominational prayer networks;
- we are now developing a web-based prayer network hosted on the Churches Together in All Lincolnshire website.
This has created a baseline of churches and ministries directory. 2005 saw a church strength survey, again for use as a baseline. The picture painted by research can (in classical DAWN thinking) lead to concerted action by providing a stimulus for change.
- January 2002: first (pilot) church planting school with Ground Level teams. Bob and Mary Hopkins contributed core material;
- in 2005 we made considerable changes in the recruitment process – changing the name to Mission-shaped Leadership and explicitly aiming at those wanting to transition to more effective missional church, as well as those starting new initiatives;
- the course continued to evolve over the subsequent years in terms of content, teachers, culture, name (mission shaped ministry) and then with adoption and adaptation by Fresh Expressions in 2007.
We have now had around 300 people from the region through the course, and our initial target is 500.
Some is happening anyway and some has been encouraged, enabled or initiated by course attendance. So far examples are:
- student congregation;
- village-based churches or congregations and small village focused teams;
- 'Re:fresh' at RAF Cranwell;
- bus ministry;
- a new community on the Carlton estate (new housing);
- community congregations;
- Brigg replant;
- café church in Boston and Gainsborough;
- 'Side Door' in Grimsby;
- the Kings Café in Stamford.
6. Youth and young people
Appointment of network youth development worker in 2004 with provision of matched funding to churches that appointed youth workers. CTAL 'Youthworks' conference in 2005.
This has included:
- the Anglican Mission Initiatives fund, which has supported many initiatives, including Anglican participants' fees for mission shaped ministry;
- The Methodist District Advance Fund, which has provided full course fees for two msm participants per circuit;
- Ground Level, which has supported church plant leaders through network mission giving and through local churches;
- Churches Together in All Lincolnshire, which in March 2009 appointed a facilitator whose role includes administrative backup, events management, communication and resourcing for the Lincolnshire FEAST.
Continued FEAST development, including:
- denominational mission/fresh expressions enablers meeting regularly as of 2009 to plan and deliver fresh expressions road shows and msm on an ecumenical basis;
- prayer network development, with a special focus on identifying leaders;
- delivering road shows across the county on an ongoing basis;
- research: survey of effect of msm so far, and five-year repeat of 2005 survey due 2010;
- establish a coaching network;
- gather practitioners for support – first due November 2009;
- rural focus – piloting msm Rural 2009/10;
- youth movement development.
msm Coordinator, Fresh Expressions