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June 15, Archdeacon Penny: God for All, All for God

The real challenge of the God for All plans and strategy is that it means everyone doing their bit. It means - All for God!

If you are a member of a church in Cumbria ( and a bit of North Yorkshire ) we are asking you to play your part in helping more people connect with God and grow in your own faith through your care and service, worship and witness.

As I travel around the Southern archdeaconry the response to God for All is varied. Some say “Why should we bother?” Others suggest they are not equipped to do what we are asking of them. I overheard one gentleman say “not likely, this church will see me out just as it is.”

And yet we know in our hearts that falling numbers of worshippers and clergy, and more pressure on our finances is simply pointing us to the fact that we have not got the church we need for our task which is set out in the great commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

The primary task of our church is to worship God and share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone here in Cumbria. That means all of us working together to ensure that people in Cumbria both residents and visitors have the opportunity to discover more of God and God’s purpose for their lives.

This is not as difficult as it seems and there is quite a lot happening already. I meet many groups of Christians from different churches serving their communities through foodbanks, credit unions, coffee drop-in centres, playgroups and lunches for the elderly.

I meet other groups who have joined together to share Bible stories with children through Open the Book sessions in schools and Messy Church. There are study groups meeting in pubs, difficult questions websites and men’s breakfasts.

I meet church communities who are encouraging, training and authorising ordinary members of congregations to help with the leading of worship and pastoral visiting.

I find church communities asking the questions ‘What can we do better together? How do we share our resources and so become more effective?’ I meet many, especially in the tourist areas, looking at their buildings critically thinking how they might make them fit for purpose and help buildings tell the story of our faith by their welcome, their hospitality and by the way they offer Holy space to those who visit this beautiful part of our country.

And you may have visited Barrow in the last month or read about how all the churches in the town have been involved in “Believe in Barrow”, finding the most amazing ways to let others know about God and his purpose in their lives be it through an extreme power team, a visit from John Sentamu – the Archbishop of York, a Mega Messy Church or dance workshops and wonderful music.

There is so much already but we just need more! We need a critical mass in order to turn the tide; we need all of us to move from our complacency of the past where we found ourselves dwelling on God for us and with our own vicar and move now to God for all and by us all.

God is calling for change. God is calling for us to work for unity. And God has a purpose for us and for his church today. If you have a faith in God, a love for Jesus and you love your church, please discover how you might be involved, and even if you are not sure what you believe get involved any way it might help you discover more of God for yourself. Go to www.godforall.org.uk.

Here is the God for All prayer.

God for all, you reached out to the world in your Son Jesus Christ.
Help us to reach out in faith and love and witness to all.
God for all, you send your Holy Spirit to empower and gift your Church.
By your Spirit help us, grow in unity, grow as followers of Jesus Christ and grow your kingdom in Cumbria and in this world. Amen.

Penny Driver
Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness

 

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