Related to this section ...

Feb 11 Bishop James: The Way Ahead

In the year I was born Yale University conducted a survey of graduating students. The idea was to discover how many of them had written goals for what they wanted their lives to become. Only 3% had any sort of vision for where they intended to go and how they intended to get there. Twenty years later a further survey was conducted with the same participants. The 3% with vision had between them accumulated greater wealth than the other 97% combined.

Of course as a Diocese we are not concerned with accumulating worldly wealth. But we are in the business of storing up what Jesus calls ‘treasure in heaven’ – that is, co-operating with God in his work of building the Kingdom of heaven here on earth. To do that we need both vision and strategy – because if we have neither, we will go nowhere and achieve little or nothing. That’s why, for the last fifteen months we have been praying, discussing and consulting widely about the ‘way ahead’ from now until 2020. The result of all that deliberation was presented in six locations around the county last month. The content of those presentations is summarised on the other pages of this special edition of ‘The News’ – and the full version is available both as a booklet and on our diocesan website. We hope it will be studied carefully by every P.C.C., and have also produced a special Lent course for parishes to use (ecumenically if possible) as a ‘way in’. The overall theme of the vision is ‘Growing Disciples’. That is what Jesus told us to do in the so-called ‘Great Commission’ (Mt.28) and that will be the main focus of all our activity during the next ten years. This represents both continuity with what has gone before- and a significant element of change. Continuity – because discipleship was one of our six areas of concern in the Diocesan Plan ‘From survival to Revival’; and also because the emphasis on growth remains fundamental to our mission and life together. Some people see ongoing decline as inevitable in such a secular society. We don’t believe this for a moment, and are deeply committed to growth in spiritual maturity, social concern and fellowship as well as in numbers. So many people are spiritually thirsty - and we alone are able to offer them living water. Change – because our focus is becoming much sharper, simpler and more specific; and because we have developed a strategy for getting from where we currently are to where we feel called to be. This will not involve any ‘micro- management’ or unnecessary interference. But it will enable us all to pull in the same direction, and the Diocese as a whole will be supporting parishes in their crucial front-line task of making disciples. The other big change lies in the ecumenical dimension of our vision. We will not be doing all this in isolation, but are really excited by the prospect of working closely with our fellow Christians from other traditions. We are also developing tools for measuring progress – and that is where some begin to feel uncomfortable. Isn’t this all rather too managerial they ask? Where does God come into it? And what about ‘Strength in Weakness’? To which the answer must be that God is right at the centre of everything we are trying to do here. We believe that he has granted us the vision and helped us to determine the strategy. We regard all of this as simply a matter of being obedient and following where he leads. Above all, we know full well- that without him, there can be no growth at all. James Newcome.

  • The Rev’d Dr Emma Ineson named as new Bishop of Penrith Posted Wednesday 9 May 2018 ...