Worship and accountability: St Benny's

Friday, 10 April, 2015

Michael Moynagh draws out the learning points from the story of St Benny's.

It took two years of listening and loving and serving (see A fresh expressions journey) before the team at St Benny's started an act of worship. Compared to some fresh expressions, this was quite quick. Perhaps the speed was in part due to Nick's and others' willingness to be upfront about their faith. Nick's comment about authenticity is telling.

They seem to have been growing several communities, for example 'Storytime', the 'coffee shop' and the Community Café. There are many questions. Will it prove fruitful to start a single worship service for people from all three communities? Will the different communities have enough in common to gel together as one (worshiping) community? Is it harder to attract people to an event where they neither know a significant proportion of the others involved, nor do they all know each other? Might it have been more effective to develop small stepping stones to faith within each of the three communities?

'Storytime' for the primary school children seems a great idea. Might the leaders keep that cohort together when the youngsters go to secondary school? As the cohort gets older, might the leaders start a second group for children coming up behind? And, in time, a third group for children behind the second one? Older children could help with the younger ones and gain leadership experience. Think what this might look like after ten years – a chain of age-based groups, each growing in the faith!

Nick refers to the burden of always being inspected. Accountability should not be like that. It should be a process of shared discernment, seeing what the Spirit has been up to and what the initiative is being called to next.

A fresh expressions journey can provide a simple framework. Those exercising oversight and the fresh expression's leaders might ask: 'what stage of the journey have we reached? Is it time to think about moving to the next stage? What should we do to make that happen?' The appendix in Being Church, Doing Life (Michael Moynagh, Monarch Books, 2014) describes this more fully.

Pioneers rightly complain: why don't inherited churches receive the same degree of outside scrutiny?

This is a learning point from:

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