Please note that we are now able to offer a second way of delivering the process, as we launch "Mission Can Be Fun" - an interactive series of webinars.
Tailoring Mission, whether for a short term strategy or longer term strategy, is a flexible process and not a fixed programme. It calls for experience and skills. We are confident that we can offer these to you. It is a facilitated process.
Some of what we do might seem similar to what you may have read or heard elsewhere, though it won't be exactly the same and our processes are especially suitable for rural churches. What we offer is a special combination of theological understanding, rural ministry experience, an ability to work ecumenically, and experience and qualifications in secular management issues such as organisational development and the management of change.
Our processes are tailored to your situation as we support you to develop mission strategies carefully tailored to your situation and sustainable. We are looking for appropriate strategies that suit you and work quite easily. We will not seek to promote any specific strategy (e.g. Alpha) no matter how well they might have suited others. At the end of the processes your church should be confident in determining what programmes or strategies are the right ones for you, and to which your members are most likely to commit.
More about the Processes
We have provided a simple summary outline below. However, the processes are flexible and interactive. Our concern is to achieve good outcomes rather than insistently and methodically worked through a structured approach. To maximise the benefits we will encourage you (after the initial consultation) to start with an "Away Day" at which as many as possible (and certainly the majority) of your congregation can attend a 10.00 to 4.00 event. We will talk through the practical issues with you, such as crèche and children, catering, etc. The day will be interspersed with short biblical reflection/discussion to keep us on the right track and provide inspiration and encouragement.
The final outcome of our processes with you has to be an easy fit. Like any tailor we are aware that there are critical points at which that fit is important.
But we start with listening carefully to your church story before we "take measurements". During this part of the process we also ensure that the members of your church are interpreting the words correctly. What is meant by mission? Has this become confused with evangelism? How do people understand the different ways in which God works in the lives of different people? Together we begin to discover that one size does not fit all. The processes also give us a better understanding of the general theological values of the local church so that we can think about what suits you as well as what fits you.
"I wouldn't go from here if I were you!"
I genuinely heard these words when asking directions in rural Devon, and was directed to travel about a mile further on and go from there! Of course I know what was meant, but we always start from where we are.
After a useful day at a rural mission conference, one Anglican clergyman stated that although he had learned much he still did not have the resources to do what he wanted to do in mission. A wise response from a colleague was, "Don't you think that God has already given you what you need in order to do what he wants you to do right now?"
So we help you explore what he has given.
"There's nowhere quite like...."
We have heard that so many times before, but what is it about your place that is unique. We will do some mapping of the local community to help us understand much more than the layout. Together we investigate the different people groups and their values and cultural norms. We will look at the various formal and informal social networks within the community and how the church relates to these.
"Whose mission is it?"
The usual church pattern is to come up with a good idea and then pray for God's blessing on it. But what if he has another or a better idea! The tragedy is that the vast majority of churches have no process for collectively discerning what God is doing and saying in the life of the church. But it isn't rocket science to find out. It is wonderful to see the level of commitment and excitement as churches discover that God is alive and working with them already. The usual route of coming up with our own ideas also means we have to "sell" the idea to as many as possible in the church. If we can get it right there will be more commitment as we seek to work with God on his ideas.
"Focus is important for vision"
As the process unfolds various possibilities start to emerge, so we use tools to help evaluate possible strategies and focus on the ones that fit best.
"Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine" Robert C. Gallagher
Engaging in mission will bring change, so it is as well to be prepared and have some idea how best to manage it. We will help you to understand, be prepared, and manage any necessary changes to minimise (or if possible avoid) problems and maximise a release of energy and enthusiasm. With some care, change in this context can be life enhancing.
"Are we there yet?"
Well, we will have journeyed a long way in a single day, but it is unlikely we will be there yet. We will close the day with a session that identifies and calls for a commitment to take the next obvious steps.
There is possibly sufficient information on this page for a reasonably intelligent church leader to think that he or she could run this on his or her own. Of course, we could supply you with additional information (what is not mentioned here) but please do not underestimate the value of a competent and experienced facilitator. This is especially true with rural congregations, often where there are anxieties and uncertainty generated by having limited resources and a sensitive context.
But we see our role somewhat like that of someone helping another person to ride a bicycle. Showing you how to do it is never going to be enough. We can stand alongside and help you to have confidence. We can advise how best to put your feet on the pedals to maximise power. We can ensure that the structures are helpful as far as the saddle and handle bar heights are concerned. We can advise you how far ahead to look and how to keep your balance. We can run alongside you for a while possibly keeping a hand on the back of the saddle. But sooner or later you will be ready to keep going on your own. The better we do our job the sooner you will manage without us.
You might want to plan a follow up day or another event. We would be happy with that. Alternatively, you might be able to manage with the help of a few emails and/or telephone calls. Once we have agreed to work together we will always be there to support you. But as with everything you do with us, it is you that remains in control.
There is more information at tailoredmissions.blogspot.com and on other pages in this section.