The starting point for this FEAST was NE1 (Merseyfest equivalent) with 200 churches involved. There were 100 afternoon projects across the North East co-ordinated by Stephen Lindridge. Post-NE1, Sir Peter Vardy initiated a leadership forum which developed the relationships across the region. Subsequently the opportunity for 'Just 10' was possible, with 300 churches involved and working together.
As part of a continuing momentum, the intention was to establish mission shaped ministry by gathering Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, URC and independent church regional leaders to focus on promoting missional thinking and emerging church. The mix includes some permission givers. The acronym FEAST was coined here.
Strategic elements that have emerged:
- mission shaped ministry - 2008 as a pilot, which also trained coaches for subsequent courses and projects. First full course: September 2009;
- a regional day for fresh expressions network, with two years ahead planned;
- denominational groupings meet in their areas, and all then network together in the autumn.
The plan is to strengthen the links between networks over the next few years and facilitate more effective mission through training. FEAST may bring together the initiatives above and agencies working on discipleship.
There needs to be a clear vision and purpose, well articulated. This will do much to get people on board. The most difficult issue is releasing people from structures and inherited mode.
Fresh Expressions Connexional Missioner for the Methodist Church