last updated on: 29th Nov 2014
With over twenty Mission Partnerships across the diocese, which vary considerably in size, style and make-up, they each function in quite different ways (there is a separate page for each Mission Partnership, just click on Mission Partnerships to the right of the red bar at the top of this page).
Some see their role, given the context in which they exist, as being to engage in mission together. A common example of this is in work with children or young people (such as one who jointly employ a Youth Worker, or another who run a Kidz Club together). Others, often because of a more geographically dispersed area, see their role not as doing mission together, but as resourcing mission together (for example, supporting and training leaders for churches separate evangelism courses, or together hosting a course on how individual churches might build on the welcome they offer to newcomers). Either model, a considered combination or a different model altogether is fine. What we’d suggest is important is to make sure all member churches are agreed in what the model is, so together you can be intentional in what you are for (and not for). Some Mission Partnerships have found themselves stuck in a rut, with the underlying cause being a range of different visions for what the Mission Partnership is for. Intentionality and constantly sowing the vision are key. It is likely that the start of a new Convenor will give opportunity to review and discuss this in a way which might be harder a year in.
The role of a Mission Partnership is not to ape existing structures (either Churches Together or the Deanery), nor to create a ‘super congregation’ or make it easier to amalgamate congregations. The aim is to strengthen the local church in being ever more effective in mission (as defined in the nine marks of mission in the initial Shaped by God envisioning report). As Dallas Willard often writes, ‘the local church is the hope for the world.’ The litmus test to all activities, discussions, and the like should always be ‘how will this help God to grow His Kingdom’. It maybe that the key role of some partnerships is less in doing and more in helping to bring about cultural change to be evermore missional. In seeking this goal, three metaphors which some Mission Partnerships have found helpful in discerning how they understand their calling are:
1. Catalyst Take nitrogen and oxygen, two of the most common elements on earth. Put them in a sealed container. Come back a day later and you’ll still have nitrogen and oxygen. But, if you then add iron to the equation you’ll get ammonia, an important ingredient in a host of things (glass cleaner, fertiliser, polymers, etc.). However, ammonia doesn’t contain any iron. The iron just facilitates the bonding of the nitrogen and oxygen. Iron is a catalyst. A catalyst gets something going, and is essential to that process. But then, at the appropriate time, fades away into the background. It speeds the reaction, but is not itself consumed in the reaction (although may degrade a little, so important it is sustained and added to). It may participate in multiple chemical transformations. In many ways it is similar to the architect of a house – essential to the building but doesn’t move into the home. There are various scriptural illusions aspects of this kind of role, often in the more itinerant ministry of the Apostle Paul, or Andrew inviting the young boy with food to meet with Jesus before He fed the crowds. (credit for some of this illustration belongs to the excellent book, The Starfish and the Spider)
2. Conductor A conductor sees both the whole score and individual notes. S/he is well aware and understands each instrumentalist, but normally can’t play the instrument as well as the principal instrumentalist. They are not needed the whole time, but are there to ensure harmony. Lots of working behind the scenes often means that at the key moment, their role appears almost to blend away.
3. Promoter Think of a sporting or music promoter. Similar to above, they are not the sportsperson or musician themselves, but they see the need for something (either from ‘consumers’ or the sportspeople/musicians themselves) and make it happen. They bring the key parties together, often pump prime the finance and bring in additional resources and expertise as needed. We see some examples of this in the watchmen of Isaiah, waiting, watching, discerning and acting as needed.
Click on the map above to see a larger version. For more information on specific Mission Partnerships click on the links to the right of this page.
To understand more about what a Mission Partnership is for, the concept behind them and the evolving identities they have click on 'What is Shaped by God?' in the red bar the top of this page. That page includes three metaphors which maybe helpful in identifying the role of your Mission Partnership. New partnerships are in continual discussion so it's not too late for the small minority who aren't yet in one. Contact Barry Hill (details in the clergy drop down bar at the top of this page) to discuss further.
Each Mission Partnerships has a Convenor. The primary role of a Partnership Convenor is to be a powerful advocate and personal promoter for mission, growth and renewal. They are there to help ensure the Mission Partnership rigorously keeps effective Spirit-led mission as their key priority, and as a litmus test to which all possible activities and ways of working are held. They act as a ‘first among equals’, with the model being one of ‘servant leadership’. They are authorised by the Bishop. There is considerable flexibility in how this might look in different partnerships, but in all places the Mission Partnership Convenor will:
+ work collaboratively with ministerial colleagues to promote mission within the MP
+ enthuse and motivate others to work together to promote mission locally
+ cultivate an environment where colleagues (lay and ordained) learn from one another and cooperate with one another for the sake of mission;
+ be mindful of the particular needs and aspirations of each of the member churches, so the missional vision of each individual church is considered as the wider MP vision is formed;
+ ensure effective team-working. Including levels of support and accountability.
Current Mission Partnerships and Convenors
Please visit their individual pages to the right of this page for details of who is involved and who the current Convenor is. If you are not sure which Mission Partnership you are in hopefully the map might help or contact firstname.lastname@example.org