Mission 21 – the changing face of mission
Mission 21 came to birth in the mid 1990’s as the Scottish Episcopal Church’s belated response to the ‘Decade of Evangelism’. The then Primus, Richard Holloway, was inspired by an Alban Institute consultant, Alice Mann whom he met during a lecture tour of the States. Canon Mann was then invited to Scotland to help the Scottish Episcopal Church focus its thinking on mission – thus Mission 21 was born.
Mission 21 aims to increase the spiritual vitality of individual congregations within their local context. Its objectives are:
• To encourage individuals to grow in faith and commitment
• To build up stronger relationships between church members
• To engage effectively with the local community • To increase the numerical size of the congregation
Mission 21 is an ethos, not a course and there are various expressions of it available today which all build upon the foundation phase ‘Making Your Church More Inviting’ (MYCMI). All these expressions are designed to challenge but not threaten a congregation as it reviews its history, seeks to build on what is good and begins to envision the future.
All phases of Mission 21 are facilitated or companioned by someone external to the congregation (but in sympathy to its style and ethos). All facilitators and companions are trained and supported by the member of the Provincial Mission Advisory Team in their particular diocese.
St Mary’s Church, Aberfoyle in the Trossachs National Park undertook Mission 21 four years ago. The Rector, Revd Richard Grosse writes:‘As a Minister involved in Mission 21, I have concluded that there are three prerequisites for its successful introduction to any parish.
Most importantly the congregation of the parish will need to contain individuals with gifts and flairs above those normally required of a Church Council or Vestry member. Furthermore those with these assets will then need to be willing to apply them to good use in the life of the parish over a sustained period. Talents such as encouraging and managing stewardship, and improving communication with technology come to mind
Particularly in the early days of the introduction, a good independent facilitator is invaluable. The facilitator will hopefully quickly come to know the strengths and weaknesses of a parish and channel aims and energies accordingly. In later years the facilitator is still invaluable to assess whether the parish is still on course. Without the facilitator a parish can struggle to
22 find direction and rapidly become disillusioned.
Finally there is the incumbent. If he or she feels uncomfortable with sharing the responsibility of ministry with the congregation, and nurturing others to take a part in activities once the exclusive domain of the ordained, then there will be failure. Mission 21 is essentially a partnership founded upon a previously good working relationship between all concerned.
At St Mary’s Aberfoyle there is prodigious talent. Our valued facilitator has steered and checked our purpose. As for me, I come increasingly to value the input of those about me, and take this opportunity to thank those involved for all that we have achieved so far.’
Mission 21 has invigorated many congregations in the Scottish Episcopal Church as they seek to implement their mission and ministry goals (or hopes for the future) in their local community. Mission 21 has created a proven track record of energising congregations with new vision and creativity in seeking God’s mission.
To learn more about St Mary’s church go to www.stmarychurchaberfoyle.org.uk
For Mission 21 visit www.scotland.anglican.org www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk
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