I have been involved in a small group at St. Peter’s Yateley that earlier this year gathered regular to tease out and discern what VALUES God would have at the centre of all that St. Peter’s does. There is much more about that process here.
Now that we are settled into a period without a vicar (vacancy), and have accomplished the paperwork involved with seeking a new one, it is time for us to share more clearly with the wider church community what these Values might be, and engage them in considering if we can live them out as a fellowship.
It fell to me at our monthly Wednesday Worship this week to start this process off. Below is the heart of what I shared:
If we think about the life of St. Peter’s we probably recognise that what we do is based on the acronym WORDS:
Worship – our services on Sunday’s and at other times
Outreach – like, Wayfinders, Messy Church our Christmas events like the open-air and Christmas Eve nativities
Relationships – we hope build with the community through all of those activities of worship and outreach
Discipleship – our commitment to learn more of God, to put Jesus teachings into practice in our lives, to trust the Holy Spirit
Service – simply meeting people’s needs, in the ordinary and extra-ordinary circumstances of their lives.
These areas of ‘doing’ give us our purpose as a church – and we think that if we didn’t do those things, the community we serve would be poorer.
One thing that has struck me powerfully as I’ve started to work with local families at some of the most difficult times of their lives – when a loved one has died – is that it is not so much what you do for them, or even the words you say to them or for them, but it is the way that you do it that makes the most difference to their lives.
It is how you comfort someone that has the biggest impact on what people will remember. It is the being Christ that is vital not just the doing of God stuff for them.
So when we think of our activities as a church, our WORDS, it is not simply what we do that is important, it is HOW WE DO them that will enable people to see Christ.
That is what a small group of us in St. Peter’s spent the first half of this year trying to teaze out with God:
How do we think God wants us to be Christ as St. Peter’s Church?
What is important to our being as a church?
What is it that we value that will inspire the way that we do stuff?
There are three values we’ve identified.
One that we believe will drive the way we relate to each other.
One that we pray will form our behaviour towards people who don’t currently attend St. Peter’s.
But we’re starting with the most foundational; the value that should be at the core of how we live our relationship with God:
We believe that God is calling St Peter’s to seek a relationship with God that
surrenders us to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
It’s not about doing, it’s not even about a form of words that you see or here, it’s about whether we can live it, whether we are seen to have been transformed, whether we really have surrendered to God’s Holy Spirit.
If we think God wants us to live as a church where people can see Christ in us, we want to turn that from being an aspiration of what we can be, into something that we are. We have to start with what’s inside each of us – the passion and energy with which we are willing to surrender ourselves to God, and our openness to being transformed by his Holy Spirit. If we can’t do that as individuals we really can’t expect our church to do it as a community.
It has been a real privilege and very humbling to part of the process that has tried to discern what God wants us to do as a church – and I am very aware that it has been part of a transformation that God is doing in me.
I can’t and won’t go into the personal details, but it is a bit like being set on fire inside. Every time I’m called upon to write down, type up or speak about these values, and sometimes when I’m simply preaching or doing something else, I feel the Holy Spirit setting something alight inside me that I want others, you, all of us to see and experience.
I know that through the power of the Holy Spirit I’m being given the energy and transformed into someone who can better be Christ for others, in a way that I would never have believed possible, even a few months ago. These values, and this one in particular, are part of that process of surrender to God.
I firmly believe that God wants St Peter’s to be a flame of God’s Holy Spirit here in Yateley. I also believe that the values that God is calling us to live out and be, are ones that we can all commit ourselves to, once we have understood what they are and why they are important. They will equip us with the energy and passion to make tough decisions about how we approach our doing of Worship Outreach Relationships Discipleship and Service.
Please consider prayerfully whether you believe we’ve understood correctly what God is asking St Peter’s to seek BE in the way that we do business with him for others. Then, please share your thoughts with me, or with other leaders in St Peter’s.