Monthly Archives: March 2009

Moving Methodism: Knowing ourselves

If we believe in "Moving Methodism" in both senses (that moves us and that is moving itself) then it seems to me that it is critical that we know ourselves well.

Again "knowing ourselves" has two aspects. There needs to be a great deal of honest reflection about who we are as individuals, what makes us tick, how we react to things etc. That is not what I want to focus on here. Instead I want to consider ow we know ourselves as community, as a collection of people.

In the Nene Valley Circuit we are in the process of implementing a new vision that includes cross circuit "enabler" roles for all the presbyters (sadly we don't have any deacons). The roles (there are 3 which happens to match the number of presbyters we will have from September and they pick up on the keys themes identified within the circuit as part of a year long vision forming process).

  • Small Groups and Pastoral Care Enabler
  • Evangelism and Social Action Enabler
  • Worship in Fresh Expressions Enabler

We have had Mike Lewis as our Evangelism Enabler for about 18 months and the way they has been seen encouraged us to use it as a model for the other enabler roles.

I have the Worship and Fresh Expressions Enabler role which I am very excited about, our vision includes a lot about worship. Including a specific goal of creating worship teams to improve the quality and consistency of our worship.

The first task in the Worship part of the role is finding out more about ourselves, hence this post. I have a small but beautifully formed :-) team to help me get a better understanding of our existing worship, worship resources and desires.

We are planning a range of questionnaires (for each Church, each service, each preacher and each worship leader and maybe others too) to try to help us see how things could be different.

I am sure others must have done similar work in the past and wondered if anyone could share their questionnaires. I would like to offer these to the Moving Methodism community as something we can all use and can all improve for others.

So please pass on your questionnaires and any suggestions as to what they should include.

Moving Methodism Launched!

Following the posts about "Moving Methodism" I have launched a new website specifically for this activity/campaign/whatever you call it.

So go on over to (if the domain is not found then you may need to wait a few hours for it to propagate all over the internet) and get involved.

I am using Google Apps for, that means I have 50 accounts available with access to:

So the first 50 applicants get registered (after that I will drop inactive users in order to add more).

I will be adding a blog and am looking for Methodists that would like to write for that.

Just email me (or leave a comment) and I will give you an account to get started on Moving Methodism.

Moving Methodism: 21 ways to improve Local Preachers Meetings

Local Preachers Meetings have a poor reputation. Here are 21 ways to make Local Preachers and Worship Leaders Meetings into hotbeds of dynamic worship improvement (as promised in 42: Moving Methodism).

  1. Venue: Do not use a Church with pews. Instead use a Church Hall, meeting room or pew free church. Make sure the chairs are comfortable, arrange them in anyway apart from straight rows (and have them different each time, simply try a different shape or facing a different way). Make sure the room is warm, easy to find and open well before the start time.
  2. Welcome: Make sure everyone gets a warm welcome, offer good coffee (fairtrade, decaf, filter) and tea (including herbal), hot chocolate, plus cold drinks plus snacks (be more creative than value custard cream or bourbon biscuits please).
  3. Worship: Always begin and end with worship. Do not simply sing a Wesley hymn and have a prayer. Invite your circuit fresh expressions to lead the worship, use a different style each time (how many years can you go without a repeat style?), ask teams or ad-hoc groups to lead the worship, make sure you involve worship leaders, musicians and Junior Church leaders etc in the worship, do not let the clergy be involved unless part of a team, invite other churches/denominations to lead the worship. When you celebrate communion try a liturgy nobody has used before, try specifically following the latest recommendations from the groups working on the covenant with the CoE (or use URC or Baptist or … liturgy).
  4. Notices: Do not make people sit and listen to announcements about upcoming conferences etc. Make sure all these are printed on the agenda and available on the Circuit website. Same for all other bits of routine business. Do not read out anything that has been provided on paper (or electronically).
  5. Preachers in training: Circulate reports including training progress (eg completed section 1) with the agenda, no need to read anything or impart status updates. Instead get them involved in leading the worship, get them to do the kids address from one of their services. Use their prayers, ask them to present for 5 minutes on something from a recent module that excited them.
  6. Do Development: Make continuing development part of every meeting. Get the Preachers on trial to set a quiz for everyone else based on one of their recent modules. Have teams to compete. Split into groups with 20 minutes to prepare an order of service together for a set Sunday using a specific style for a specific Church. Each group to present their service in 5 minutes. Take a news headline and each group connect that to a gospel message and show how they could engage a congregation in sharing and prayer.
  7. Communication: use email, SMS texts and postal mail to remind all preachers of forthcoming meetings. Send reminders of their obligations as a preacher (copies of the relevant bits of CPD, send out invitation tickets to Local Preachers Meetings. Circulate minutes within 1 week of the meeting at the latest (or have a team doing live minutes using Google Docs with a projector showing the current state of the minutes). Make sure the Church Councils know which of their local preachers and worship leaders are (or are not) attending the Local Preachers Meeting. Get reports of all the exciting things that are happening into the Circuit Newsletter, Church notices, local Churches.
  8. Followup: Make sure all minuted actions are followed up. Include the results of all actions in the minutes for the next meeting. Someone must chase to ensure that actions actually happen, use SMS text reminders to make sure things happen.
  9. Mix and Match: have at least one meeting per year jointly with a neighbouring Circuit.
  10. Surrounding Prayer: Make sure that there is a side room/chapel available for prayer before and after the meeting. Ensure it is nicely presented with cross, candle, chairs, soft lighting, flowers etc.
  11. Congregations: Invite representatives from every congregation. Ask all congregations to provide profiles of all their worship services including all available resources (people, equipment, song books, liturgy). Collect and circulate reviews of services. Get a report on a service lead by each preacher at least once per year (using the same forms as used for preachers in training).
  12. Go out: have the meeting at someone's place of work with a focus on how our worship can be relevant to people working there. Use a local pub or coffee shop for a meeting.
  13. Be social: Instead of a "normal" meeting go out for a meal together or go bowling or to a Salsa dance class or …
  14. Prepare: In small groups prepare a Circuit Service with each group responsible for a different aspect of the service.
  15. Bible Study: Personally I think this one should be obvious and already part of our normal practice. Anyway spend time together in detailed Bible Study. Have a few people prepare to lead groups. Get the circuit to pay for some resources eg so everyone has the same commentry on the current lectionary gospel and study a passage in detail together.
  16. Do a Series: Lead a series of services across the Circuit. Plan them together in the Local Preachers Meeting. Consider using a book such as "Just walk across the room" by Bill Hybels (very popular in many of our Churches) and tieing it into Small Groups (form small groups specifically for the series as a way of growing small groups).
  17. Consider inclusion: Have a discussion and then small group work to consider how to include people in worship who are often excluded from worship (such as people who are deaf or homeless or goths or …). Invite some along to talk about how they are often excluded and what would make them feel included.
  18. Lead Worship: Instead of a normal meeting go and worship with people who do not normally come to services eg in a shelter for homeless people or in a prison or in a school
  19. Visit: Go and visit a Temple, a Synagogue, a Mosque. Ask for a tour and a speaker to describe their worship.
  20. Learn songs: Bring in the worship band from one of the Churches and get them to teach you a few new songs. Get someone to lead an Iona Big Sing for you and neighbouring circuits to learn new ways of congregational singing (Personal recommendation: Alison Adam does this fantastically – pay for a day and get her to spend time in a local school as well).
  21. Be silent. Spend an entire Local Preachers meeting in silence. Have a number of prayer stations around the room, have a silent Eucarhrist (Inderjit Bhogal first introduced this to me and it is wonderful).

Even as I write these there are plenty more ideas around (devise surveys to discover how people find worship at present, …). So please add you own ideas in the comments.

Next step is how to start some of these when you feel you are not "in charge" of what happens at the Local Preachers Meeting.

Moving Methodism: On power

Who has power within the British Methodist Church?

This is a critical question for those interested in "Moving Methodism". Who has the power to move things forward? Equally, who has the power to stop progress?

As part of Moving Methodism we want to move beyond the old, tired narrative which focused on expectations of failure and powerlessness. That narrative is neither accurate nor worthy of the God we serve or the traditions of our faith.

The old narrative on power was for everyone, whatever their position and role, to moan that they had no power to do anything. Clearly it was inaccurate as I have heard it from everywhere and it could not be true for every person and role. Very often it indicated a lack of self awareness and reflection (theological or otherwise). Equally often is was an excuse for inaction.

Here are 10 "Moving Methodism" assertions about power within Methodism:

  1. Power is a Gospel issue. Jesus sets an example of how to use power that stands against the ways of the World. All uses of power must be held up to and evaluated against the light of the Gospel in particular to the model of power shown by Jesus.
  2. Power that is not used in Gospel ways has no place in "Moving Methodism". We reject power that is used for personal gain and that does not show grace, compassion, mercy, love, justice to all.
  3. We rejoice that the structures of Methodism do not concentrate power in the hands of a few and reject the narrative that claims people in Methodism are powerless.
  4. We believe all Methodists need to honestly explore and reflect on the power they have within the Church and consider how they can use it for "Moving Methodism" in gospel ways.
  5. Prayer is an often underrated aspect of power and "Moving Methodism" is committed to our tradition of prayer and supports all initiatives aimed at encouraging Methodist to pray. "Moving Methodism" recognises that God uses prayer to change us and seeks to be responsive to God's guidance, leading and gifts. We commit ourselves to pray for "Moving Methodism".
  6. "Moving Methodism" believes in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring life to God's people, to restore, renew and transform. We celebrate the gifts that God showers on people and commit ourselves to sharing and using those gifts in the Misio Dei (Mission of God).
  7. "Moving Methodism" values the structures of our Church. We celebrate the ways in which they connect us together and allow us to support each other in God's mission. We are committed to using our God given power through these structures in a reflective way. That means we are open to change and transformation of these structures where that will bring life, hope and grace, but it also means we will not subvert or manipulate these structures.
  8. "Moving Methodism" rejoices in the image of God's people as a body and recognises that power wielded by individuals is incompatible with this image. We therefore commit ourselves to work with others and look for and celebrate the gifts and power that God gives others.
  9. We believe that the purpose of power is to build the Kingdom of God, we celebrate the power that God has given us all and pledge to use it to build that Kingdom, not in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us all.
  10. We believe in the powers of grace, forgiveness, reconciliation and self-sacrifice shown in the life and death of Jesus and believe that these can lead us through death into resurrection and new life.

Moving Methodism: Onward

The response to 42: Moving Methodism has been really positive which is great (although not surprising).

Expect a website and the opportunity for everyone to contribute to that in the near future.

Meanwhile it is worth pointing out the example of "Moving Methodism" set by our General Secretary Revd Dr Martyn Atkins. See his article in this weeks Methodist Recorder. It is great to have leadership that is so committed to "Moving Methodism" forward in God's service.

See also:

Moving Methodism

I have been thinking (oh no!) and this thinking has been partly influenced by experiences within my own Circuit, partly by the Mission Shaped Ministry course that I have been on for the past year and partly by reading "Tribes" by Seth Godin.

I have concluded that I am passionate about Moving Methodism and I want to engage with others who are too for support, encouragement, prayer, ideas, sharing and friendship.

What do I mean by "Moving Methodism"?

Moving Methodism recognises that significant movement (change) is needed for the Methodist Church in Great Britian to be all that God wants us to be. Moving Methodism is all about seeking God's Mission and moving ourselves to join in. Moving Methodism is seeking to discover, encourage, support and celebrate all that moves Methodism towards God's Mission.

  • Moving Methodism celebrates moving nearer to God. After all we began as a holiness movement.
  • Moving Methodism encourages growth in our discipleship (think of the class system).
  • Moving Methodism expects us to move spiritually, emotionally, physically, relationally, intellectually as we Worship, Serve, Learn, Care and Evangelise together.
  • Moving Methodism celebrates the change, new life, new
    opportunities brought by the living God through the power of the Holy
  • Moving Methodism encourages us to face death by believing in resurrection.
  • Moving Methodism wonders at the love of God continually creating, redeeming and sustaining life.
  • Moving Methodism glories in the variety of people created, loved and delighted in by God

Moving Methodism is about being changed and used by God to help the Methodist Church move as God wants it to move.

Moving Methodism is not:

  • is not about leaving the Methodist Church
  • is not about grabbing power
  • is not a takeover bid
  • is not interested in harming people
  • is not interested in driving people out
  • is not interested in creating division
  • is not about subverting structures
  • is not deterred by the size of the task or by naysayers

Moving Methodism is:

  • inclusive of everyone who wants to join
  • in love with Jesus
  • grateful for our history, tradition and structures
  • in love the people called Methodists
  • eager to reach out to those in need in service and witness
  • going to be working within and for the Methodist Church in Great Britain

Are you interested?

If you are passionate about Moving Methodism and keen to get started on exploring, sharing and supporting each other in this exciting journey then let me know.

Some ideas to get us started

  • How to lead a Church/Circuit/District/Connexion into praying continually.
  • 101 ways to move Circuit Leadership Teams into mission and movement.
  • 10 ways to help Church Councils move forward in Mission
  • 21 ways to make Local Preachers and Worship Leaders Meetings into hotbeds of dynamic worship improvement.
  • 223 ways to get rid of burdonsome buildings
  • 1001 things to do with pews (once they are out of the Church)
  • Why God calls people to be excited about being a Circuit Steward.
  • How to build God's Kingdom and change the world by being a Church Steward.
  • Junior Churches to die for.
  • How to rediscover distinctive features of Methodism such as Prevenient Grace.
  • 1 reason for being a Pioneering Moving Methodist.
  • How many Fresh Expressions can you start this year?
  • Why we are moving back to Scripture

Moving Methodists and Light bulbs.

Q: How many Moving Methodists does it take to change a light bulb?

A1: None, they have already moved onto LED's which last forever and use almost no power (and what they do use is provided by renewable resources).

A2: None, they are never in one place long enough for a light bulb to fail.

A3: Any number from one up because change is what we do.

A4: Why bother? One Moving Methodist is Spirit filled enough to light up any room.