High Leigh has wifi, so here's a few quotes from the first session of the Diocesan Church Growth Strategies conference, from a very quotable diocesan missioner:
"sometimes people in the diocese, when you talk about church growth, people respond rather dismissively, as if this was the triumph of shallow marketing over deep theology and rootedness.” (that one got a few nods from our corner)
“I want to stop evangelism being a dirty word in this diocese.”
“Making new disciples and growing them in the faith: anything less is not only disobedience to the Lords command, but also guarantees that we are working on a very short time-line.” (speaking in the context of a diocese that had seen a recent sharp decline in membership. i.e. the choice is mission or death, though we shouldn't need it put in such stark terms to concentrate our minds)
“Our (church) culture is probably more powerful than our strategy. Our strategies can be powerful signifiers of cultural norms, but if our strategies and our culture are not aligned, culture wins.” (i.e. you can have as many statements, plans and bits of paper as you want, but a memo is no match for hearts and minds.)
v encouraging to hear a couple of dioceses talking about cathedrals planting new congregations in neighbouring areas.
(Explanation: the conference has reps from various Dioceses in the south of the UK, hearing from different dioceses about their growth strategies, hearing from various specialists (George Lings from Church Army, James Lawrence from CPAS, Rachel Jordan the CofE's national mission specialist, and the ABofC himself later this evening) to learn from each other and work out best practice for dioceses who are seeking to encourage growing churches. So far so good.)