Here in Cumbria, in 2015, the ecumenical God for all Vision was launched, showing a shared commitment across denominations to grow God's kingdom. To see a flourishing church in Cumbria, we recognised that we needed to re discover and re imagine what church is and can be.
That has led us to think of a 'parable of the Garden', with a 'mixed ecology 'of time-honoured or traditional churches and of fresh expressions and pioneering forms of church. We want to tend both the well-established plants (the time-honoured churches), and to sow seeds or to graft and grow something new, to let new plants (new forms of church) also come into being.
The Cumbria God for All Mission Community support team has helped to support different forms of mission and church, including with the help of the Northern Mission Centre various pioneering initiatives and fresh expressions. To find out more about the ecumenical God for All here in Cumbria follow the link: www.godforall.uk.
At the same time, the national (or 'connexional') Methodist Church has developed the New Places for New People initiative (see below), which also looks to encourage and resource new forms of church.
We want to support our churches to flourish in this garden, by helping you to be more missional, inviting you to re-imagine what church or Christian community might be, and by exploring what your part is in tending this garden!
New Places for New People (NPNP) are projects focussed on forming new Christian communities for those not yet part of existing church. NPNP's are a very effective means of connecting new people, new groups and new residents to Christian exploration and community. In addition, NPNP's bring learning from experimental research and experience elsewhere, to help existing or new leaders and the whole church to reflect on and follow their calling.
We have a small enthusiastic team who hope to create a culture of pioneering throughout the Cumbria Methodist District. Hear from three of them in the videos below:
David Newlove: https://youtu.be/lhYWP1qMaBc
Helen Hooley: https://youtu.be/lhYWP1qMaBc
Lol Wood: https://youtu.be/XklLiNHAWFs
At the moment we are exploring what NPNP might look like in our district through the Pilot project agreed by the District Synod. We are exploring 3 strands.
1-Across the Top – what might a district wide NPNP look like? A new worshipping online community? A network of small cell expressions of church who gather occasionally? We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.
Contact Emma Richardson – firstname.lastname@example.org
2-Church at the Margins – what might it look like to nurture and build new Christian communities amongst economically marginalised people? Where might this be in Cumbria? How can we be a church that receives, values and learns from being alongside people experiencing poverty?
To find out more visit the Methodist connexional webpage and watch the video of Eunice Attwood here: Discover Church at the Margins (methodist.org.uk)
Could nurturing a new community at the economic margins be part of God's invitation to you?
Contact Emma Richardson – email@example.com
3-Culture Change/Missional Shift – We recognise that to truly grow and develop as church here at this time, we need to recognise that change needs to happen. We need to recognise that our ways of doing and being church are great for those who are already engaging in our existing churches, but as culture has shifted, our reach and connection outside of ourselves is limited. We have operated on a model of come to us, changing what we do to be more attractional and in some places this has encouraged new growth, but in most cases it leaves us disappointed and often disillusioned.
If we recognise culture has shifted, and are willing to move, by being creative with our mission, exploring new waysof doing things, experimenting with the unknown and being willing to take risks, we will move beyond the edges of what we currently know and meet with those we have not yet met, and be able to create new communities and places to explore faith and God together.
The Pilot Project is specially focussed on this third strand. Emma is here to work with your church communityto help you step into this time of change. Beyond the existing ways that you have reached out to and are open to your communities, Emma will help to explore with you what changes might be helpful to ensure that we reach out into our communities and commit to finding new ways of doing and being church.
As we look to develop a mixed ecology of church here in Cumbria, creative mission, pioneering and fresh expressions become an important key to this journey.
To find out more about NPNP please engage with the resources provided by the evangelism and growth team on the Methodist Church in Britain website. https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/our-work-in-britain/evangelism-growth/new-places-for-new-people/begin-a-new-place-for-new-people/
NPNP-Starting a new Christian Community – A practical guide: https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/our-work-in-britain/evangelism-growth/new-places-for-new-people/begin-a-new-place-for-new-people/npnp-guide-chapters/
As part of NPNP we are encouraged to consider establishing 'Church at the Margins': https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/our-work-in-britain/evangelism-growth/discover-church-at-the-margins/
Resource matching for NPNP: https://www.methodist.org.uk/media/27292/resource-matching-for-npnp.pdf
To find out more about what is happening with fresh expressions nationally visit the web page.
To find out what support and resources the Cumbrian ecumenical Mission Community Support team can offer through the NMC visit their webpage Northern Mission Centre – God For All
If you are interested in finding out more get in touch with Emma Richardson – Cumbria Methodist District NPNP pilot project co-ordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org