There are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.’ (John 21.25)
‘You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.’ (2 Corinthians 3.2-3)
As the church of Jesus Christ we have two stories to tell: the story of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection; and the continuing story of what Jesus has done through his church, including what he is doing in our lives now by the power of the Spirit. That is Living Christ’s Story.
Our task as the people of God, here and now, is to share the story of Christ by letting God write that story on our own hearts and by writing the next chapter of all that Jesus is going to do here. This is about church being simpler in our systems and structures to serve our mission; humbler because we must acknowledge our failures and live within our means; and bolder because the things entrusted to us in Christ are what the world needs.
To make that vision, Living Christ’s Story a reality, our diocesan goals for the next ten years are:
- Becoming more like Christ – which means receiving and knowing the story ourselves. Before we do anything else we remember who we are: God’s beloved children, those whom he came to seek and save. We also remember that we know this story by prayer and service as well as by Bible study and learning. This is demandingly life-changing, and it happens by God’s grace alone working with us and through us. Without this foundation, nothing else makes sense.
- Reaching people we currently don’t – by living and telling this story, remembering that the story we share is those two stories of what God has done in Christ and what God is doing through the Church down through the centuries and in us.
- Growing churches of missionary disciples - by reaching new people and growing in discipleship as a whole church, striving to be younger and more diverse, and to move towards becoming a mixed ecology church, sustaining and developing church life in the many different places in which we live our lives: in church and online; at work or in education; in places of leisure as well as in neighbourhoods. We want our churches to be places where the story of Christ is known and lived out, transforming the communities we serve.
- Transforming our finances and structures - by finding new ways to support a Christian presence in all the neighbourhoods and networks of the diocese; to find a new story that will not just be about sustaining our life as the church, but recognising that our life needs to be transformed in order to be an agent of God’s transformation in the world.
We believe that this vision will be made real by focusing our resources on a strategy of ‘Revitalised Growth’. We will commit to becoming more like Christ. We will invest in growing the church in places of potential and find new ways of sustaining ministry in places which will struggle to grow today. We will reimagine ministry and mission everywhere, finding new and better ways to nurture vocations, lay and ordained. We will find new and better ways of being church, simplifying where we can so that we can spend more time reaching people we currently don’t and growing as disciples.
Living Christ’s Story: Revitalised Growth
Our chosen strategy - ‘Revitalised Growth’ - will require a ‘root and branch’ transformation of our mission, ministry, finances and structures. The breadth, depth and complexity of the undertaking is such that great discipline will be needed by the leadership structures, diocesan officers, deaneries and parishes to work together to accomplish our task.
A strategic programme of work is underway under the sponsorship of the York Diocesan Leadership Team (YDLT), and led by the Interim Director for Strategic Transformation. Two key workstreams have been identified: ‘Reimagining Mission and Ministry’ and ‘Transforming Structures and Finances’.
To enable ‘Reimagining Mission and Ministry’, a re-shaped diocesan Mission and Ministry team has been created. Its aim is to enable churches to engage in God’s mission to the whole of life and to ensure that the Diocese has the right kinds of lay and ordained ministries to enable churches to serve God’s mission. The team is seeking to resource deaneries, parishes, chaplaincies and new worshipping communities in these five ways:
- Deepening discipleship in everyday life and become more Christlike
- Growing healthy, safe and inclusive churches which in turn grow missionary disciples within a church where a mixed ecology becomes the norm
- Reaching those we currently don’t reach, building upon Multiply (work reaching 20-40s) and Mustard Seed (work in our most deprived communities) and engaging with work to ‘grow younger’.
- Widening our vision for renewed lay and ordained ministries which will enable churches to serve that mission
- Developing lifelong formation programmes to sustain those ministries
The second key workstream is ‘Transforming Structures and Finances’. We have identified the challenge that, unless we transform how we support and enable both ministry and the tasks required of the institution which is the Church of England, then we cannot release sufficient energy to grow the life of the church which is the people of God. There are a number of major initiatives envisaged under this workstream including:
- The appointment of a Digital Transformation Leader, to help us use digital technologies well across the diocese, including: the use of the diocesan website and other digital communication platforms; the enabling of simplified processes; and supporting parishes in developing online outreach, discipleship, worship and communications.
- Moving toward Carbon Net Zero – anticipating that this will be a major project to meet both the missional challenge of the global climate crisis, and the practical challenge of meeting the goals set by General Synod of achieving Carbon Net Zero by 2030.
- A Diocesan Support Review, an externally led review of both what we do to support parishes and deaneries and how we do it.