Shaped by God
last updated on: 13th Dec 2014
Welcome to an introduction to Shaped by God; our diocesan vision.
Shaped by God in our lives and communities we seek the growth of His Kingdom in:
- the depth of discipleship,
- the number of disciples of Jesus,
- loving service of the world.
In 2005 the Diocese of Leicester embarked on a new diocesan vision and strategy, Shaped by God. Aided by identifying nine common marks of mission (with auditing and training focused around each), Shaped by God looks to see every church growing in the depth of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, a growth in the numbers of those disciples, and the Kingdom service which leads from it. The Shaped by God strategy is the umbrella under which all mission and ministry in the Diocese exists; all our energies, both as parish and fresh expressions of Church, as local churches and diocesan officers, flow from what it means to have Shaped by God as our diocesan vision.
In 2009 a review was undertaken which concluded with a reaffirmation of the aims and purposes of the strategy and in late 2014, as we moved towards the 10th anniversary of Shaped by God it was felt it would be timely to look again at the strategy, asking not only whether it was fit for purpose and what might need adjusting or amending, but more widely considering the question of how we have noticed God at work among us and what are we learning, and how do we need to respond now to join in with God’s activity? The timing of this is intentionally significant as the current Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, retires next July. The longevity and consistency of vision and strategy provided by his leadership has been critical in sustaining the trajectory of Shaped by God over the past years. This review is purposefully being undertaken towards the end of Bishop Tim’s episcopate and it will hopefully clarify the important elements of vision and strategy to take forward between bishops, as well as articulating to candidates for this See recent strategic focus and the direction in which it is hoped the diocese will continue to travel. This renewal was bought before Diocesan Synod in November 2014, where it was unanimously recommitted to for the next ten years.
A copy of this renewal can be downloaded here. It’s not a new initiative (we continue to feel called to Shaped by God as a long term vision), but an opportunity to take stock and notice what God is teaching us, what we need to repent of, what the challenges are for the future and what the Diocese of Leicester will look like in the coming decade. To that end, the conclusions on page 16 and 17 are especially recommended.
At the heart of our diocesan vision is an image of growth, a metaphor, drawn from one of Jesus’ parables. The picture at the top of this page is of a seed that has become a tree so big that the birds of the air come and rest in its branches. The parable of the mustard seed is in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s Gospels*. It contrasts the latent potential of the seed with a plant that has grown and serves creation. This is a picture of the Kingdom of God. If the tree illustrates the growth of God’s Kingdom people in number and reach, its roots represent that growth in depth, and growth in service to the world can be seen where the birds rest in the tree’s branches.
These three dimensions of growth are at the heart of what we expect to see in our church as we allow ourselves to be shaped by God. We need to be intentional in allowing God to grow his church in this way and the image is intended to be a reminder. Alongside the stories and reflections in this booklet we hope that the picture can be used to communicate across the church the hope at the heart of this vision.
The Nine Marks of Mission
The initial Shaped by God document had at its heart nine marks of mission. These continue to be at the centre of what our calling looks like in practice. The original document discusses them in more detail, but in summary:
- lives and communities transformed, through the Good News of Jesus Christ;
- worship in a way that renews and inspires, echoing the praise of heaven;
- self-giving service to the community, because the Church is called to be local and outward looking;
- being rooted in prayer, because prayer is part of our loving response to the needs of the world;
- confident and sensitive evangelism, responding to Jesus’ call to share our faith in word and deed;
- lifelong Christian nurture, because our mission overflows from our own discipleship;
- the welcome of newcomers, helping those who come close to the church to feel welcomed and cherished by God;
- becoming child friendly, following our Lord’s example of putting children at a central place in His ministry;
- celebration of people and places, because godly celebration is at the heart of the gospel.
Various resources (including audits) are available to help parishes and fresh expressions of Church discern God’s calling to them in relation to these. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more. ‘The File’ is also available, as a set of one off sessions looking to go deeper and further in some of these marks of missions. The sessions are available free, with all resources needed to run them and hopefully connecting with a range of learning styles. Click here for more: http://www.leicester.anglican.org/shaped-by-God/the-file/
Spring 2015 – renewing the vision
Now that Synod has endorsed the renewal, this initial document will be enhanced with a number of resources being sent far and wide at Easter time next year. This will include an In Shape special edition with the main tenets of the renewal and stories of what God is doing. It will also include a single page summary, posters for churches, a credit card sized summary and a ten minute DVD summarising it all. In essence, lots of different ways of communication for those who learn in different styles. If you have an idea of a resource you would find helpful just let email@example.com know.
Introducing the key pages:
Mission Partnerships - clustering together in partnerships to resource mission together is a key part of Shaped by God. To read more click on the Mission Partnerships click here: http://www.leicester.anglican.org/shaped-by-God/mission-partnerships/
Fresh expressions of Church - a central part of our calling as a Diocese is to see as many growing and maturing fresh expressions (new) churches in 2030 as we have continuing (parish) ones, led by a network of over 600 licensed Pioneers. To read more on this click here: http://www.leicester.anglican.org/shaped-by-God/fresh-expressions-of-church/
2020 planning - part of the Shaped by God vision is responding missionally to the 20% decrease in clergy numbers in 2020 caused by increased retirement rates. To read more on this, the background, responses and the extensive resources supporting deaneries in this click here: http://www.leicester.anglican.org/shaped-by-God/deanery-planning/
Growth and Captial Funds - with fewer clergy there is need for less vicarages. Much of the money released by selling these no longer required vicarages (around £6m) has been put into a Growth Fund and Captial Fund to fund mission in the local church and building projects with missional outcomes, respectively. Click here http://www.leicester.anglican.org/shaped-by-God/growth-fund/ and here http://www.leicester.anglican.org/shaped-by-God/capital-fund/ for more on these
Statistics for Mission and Census Data - After many decades of decline, the last seven years has seen God bless Leicester Diocese with a growth in the number of disciples of Jesus Christ. A key part of measuring and understanding this is the annual Statistics for Missoin returns, which also drive large parts of our training and development provision. To read more click here:http://www.leicester.anglican.org/shaped-by-God/statistics-for-mission/ Similarly, mission is in large part responding to the needs of our communities with the transforming love of Jesus. Census and deprivatation data is a valuable resource in understanding and discerning how to respond to God's call. To download a report specific to your community and church click here:http://www.leicester.anglican.org/shaped-by-God/census-data/
Shaped by God is resourced by a wide range of people from across the diocese, but with dedicated resource from Revd Barry Hill as Diocesan Mission Enabler (supported part-time by Beth Marvin). Barry and Beth can be contacted at St Martins House, 7 Peacock Lane, Leicester LE1 5PZ, by phone on 0116 261 5335 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org A Co-ordinating team steers the Shaped by God vision and is always welcome to recieve comments, ideas and questions. A copy of its terms of reference and membership are at the bottom of this page.
Please hold this vision in your prayers that together we may see evermore lives and communities transformed by the Good News offered by our Lord Jesus Christ.
(*The Parable of the Mustard Seed is found at Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:30-31 and Luke 13:18-19. Jesus talks about faith as small as a mustard seed in Matthew 17:19 and Luke 17:6.)