Back in April I blogged about participating my St. Peter’s search for some values that will inspire our living, loving and learning of the Christian faith for the years to come.
Since then, we’ve discovered that we’re facing ‘vacancy’ (‘interregnum’ to those of the old language) since the very Bishop I quoted in that item (Bishop Alan) has snaffled our vicar to go and do Fresh Expressions in Marlow! So the process of finalising our values became more urgent, as they will form part of our Parish Profile because they show where we are on our parochial journey with God.
Laurence Gamlen of CPAS has continued to be very helpful, and encouraging throughout. The process has entailed a group of exhausted lay-folk taking time out from other evening commitments to discern through prayer, Bible-study and conversation HOW it is that we wish to behave as individuals and as a church that exists within it’s general and diocesan Anglican identity. (Once again Bishop Alan’s blog feeds my own journey in this, as he’s just posted about existing as a church “that Christ may reign”)
As I understand it, the values that we’ve come up with should work alongside our purpose as a church (Worship, Outreach, Relationships, Discipleship, Service) to inspire our vision and strategy for the future which hopefully a new vicar will help us to work out.
Last month many of our PCC met for an Away Day which was solely devoted to the presentation of the Values which we have been working on. We had to condense a 4 month journey into one day. Usefully our current vicar started the day by asking everyone where they were on the ‘Winnie the Pooh’ scale – with many folk admitting they were feeling more Eeyore-like than anything else (rather an effort to be there, and not very hopeful about the usefulness of the day). However, at the end of the day when we’d finished presenting the values, everyone was standing at the Tigger end of the “Eeyore – Tigger” continuum; we were all bouncy and inspired to work on a variety of ways that we can discuss and explore these values together as a church during our ‘vacancy’.
So what are these values that St. Peter’s People could be inspired by God to live by? They focus on our (upward) relationship with God, our (inward) relationships with each other, and our (outward) relationships with those outside of St. Peter’s:
At St. Peter’s Yateley we will seek God
- by surrendering to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit;
by living as a community held together by the grace and love of the Father;
by meeting with the people of Yateley to explore the relevance of new life with Jesus.
So, what’s so exciting about them and what questions have people had so far?
The exciting points were that PCC members felt they showed conviction and not judgement, that they encourage us to be interested in each other and not ourselves, that they require an act of will, that they will encourage and allow transformation to occur in an environment where there is respect within our ‘family’ for differing views, and that importantly, they all provide a good check back to our individual and corporate actions and decisions.
The few points of discussion revolved initially around the suggestion that we haven’t yet found God, which some thought could be inferred from the phrase “we will seek God”. However, the Values Working Group had actually specifically gone for this phrase as expressing the idea that we are always seeking God, and haven’t got all the answers! Everyone now seems quite happy with this.
The other point of issue relates to the last bullet point: some PCC members thought that it made the relevance of new life in Jesus more positive rather than optional, and prefer the wording:
- by meeting with the people of Yateley to explore why new life with Jesus is relevant.
Personally I think both phrases have the same slight problem, and yet we want to make sure we’re not ‘selling Christ short’ by not saying that we believe he makes all the difference to our lives!
My thoughts are that these are really exciting ideas to live by, but that Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh wasn’t always very adventurous or courageous – if we’re going to be living a Christian life that witnesses to these Christ inspired values, then we’re going to need to be both!
So what do you think? Whether you are from St. Peter’s Yateley or not, do you come over all Tigger-ish at the idea of behaving in ways that show these values?
And what behaviours should they inspire in us as Christians?
More of that in the next post, in the mean-time, please use the comment facility to let me know what you think of our journey so far.