Pilgrimpace's Blog


jsp evaluation
April 20, 2016, 9:07 pm
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The Church Urban Fund have produced a very good Evaluation Report on Jesus Shaped People.  Please click below to read it.  If you would like an electronic copy, please let me know

Evaluation Final Report

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Support, Collegiality, Vocation, Passion; Being Shaped By Jesus
March 13, 2016, 8:20 pm
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Talk by Andy Delmege at the Evangelism on Urban Estates Conference, 1.3.16

I am Vicar of St Bede’s Church, Brandwood in South Birmingham.  I am going to talk about two of the other things I do, although these are very much rooted in the experience of outer estates parish ministry.

  1. The Birmingham Outer Estates Group

This is a good and easy model for others to replicate.  I convene this group which has been running since 2010.  I saw a need for the group and got the blessing of the Bishop.  It fills a deep need for support and collegiality.  When I asked fellow estate clergy if they wanted to join, they often said yes before I had finished the question.  We have in the region of 35 estate parishes in Church of England Birmingham, and around 25 parishes have engaged with the group (there is obviously no compulsion to join).

We aim to have two or three good quality events a year, the most important of which is a 24 hour residential for clergy.  We were originally funded by Thrive Together Birmingham (the CUF/Diocesan partnership) but now have a small annual amount from the Diocesan Mission Budget.

 How does the Outer Estates Group Help Evangelism?

  • We have put a lot of work into setting a good culture. We know estates ministry is often tough; that it is important to share difficulties and open up spaces of trust and support; but it is vital for estate ministry that we do not become trapped in negativity.  Depressed and downhearted clergy and churches will find it much harder to engage in fruitful evangelism.
  • Sharing good practice and imagination.
  • Feeding the original vocational vision – most of us are in estates ministry because we want to be.
  • Identifying needs and offering training. For example, culturally appropriate lay training and formation; and changing ethnicities in outer urban estates.
  • People feel very supported. It is like a good Chapter, but we are comparing like with like.
  • There is deep respect across the group – things like churchmanship are not an issue.

Maybe this is all around creating the conditions for evangelism at a structural level.  Parishes and clergy who are supported, fulfilled, in good heart, staying for longer, skilled at and committed to estates ministry are more likely to create attractive, loving, hospitable, serving and evangelistic churches.

A lot of the learning from two of our residentials is available online:

http://www.slgpress.co.uk/SLGP_Details.asp?ProductID=E_MIN001

https://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/hopeful-resilient-love/

  1. Jesus Shaped People

Jesus Shaped People is a whole Church development programme that is written especially for estate parishes.  I am involved in supporting it across estates and inner city parishes in Birmingham.  It works really well.

(You can read about it in detail on the website:

http://www.jesusshapedpeople.net/)

JSP takes Jesus’ teaching to his disciples and distils it into 15 weeks, allowing the whole of a Church (with a special emphasis on children and young people) to capture Jesus’ vision and method, and to apply it to their own life and work.

It fits estates. The learning style is not conceptual.  It is practical, rooted in the Kingdom, serving the local community, doesn’t require reading skills, is about group and stories.

There is something important in this for estates evangelism: in estate context, evangelism cannot be separated from discipleship, service to the local community, contextual learning, praying, prophetic challenge.

It gives parishes a real and renewed sense of purpose, vision and life.  This link:

https://pilgrimpace.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/jesus-shaped-people-catching-some-insights/

gives a list of comments collected during an evaluation of how JSP has effected St Thomas’, Garretts Green in Birmingham and in what they are being led into next as a result of JSP.  You can really see here how a parish is moving consciously from serving the community to evangelism (but seeing them as intimately connected).

‘Organic’ is a very important word here.  We often see slow organic growth in JSP parishes.  Things take a long time.  It is often about culture change; at St Bede’s it has led us to a more welcoming, hospitable, loving and confident culture; this has led to people from the congregation engaging in evangelism with their neighbours and to new people joining us.  JSP spreads organically – it is by word of mouth and personal recommendation rather than top down.

The JSP Team offer ongoing missional support to parishes.  Someone from outside is in a relationship of trust where they are able to help the parish discern where they are being led next and ensuring that they are equipped to do it.

 

 



jesus shaped people – catching some insights

The comments below were collected during an evaluation of Jesus Shaped People in St Thomas’, Garretts Green, one of our Estate Churches in Birmingham.  They fill me with great joy and admiration, and I am so glad to be part of a process of helping parishes like this move forward.  I’m really looking forward to the discernment process to see exactly what this Church is being led into next.  

These are certainly worth spending some time pondering and praying through.  I will be referring to these in a talk next week, so I’m leaving them here for people to see.

  1. I felt closer Jesus, more at his level, more part of what he did

 

  1. We’re Jesus’ disciples today, were here to continue his work

 

  1. Jesus loves us and he taught love

 

  1. Jesus is involved in all aspects of life, not just in church or in service but in politics too.

 

  1. Being Jesus Shaped sometimes puts us in uncomfortable situations or places

 

  1. We have to be forgiving and show love and kindness, we should have open arms.

 

  1. Jesus trusts us to further the kingdom so we should trust him; even when we mess things up there is always hope

 

  1. There are distractions all around us in our daily lives; JSP bought me back to realise Jesus is always there and it has given me more passion.

 

  1. How do we talk to people about our faith, especially those on the fringes of church. How can we make the most of our contacts?

 

  1. How can we reach out to more people, especially those on the outside?

 

  1. We need to equip ourselves to do good things really well

 

  1. Church/faith is a good place to be; safe on the inside where we get protection and are supported.

 

  1. JSP confirmed a lot of what we already do

 

  1. Prompted me to think about the things we do and why we do them.

 

  1. Prophetic Challenge made me think about how we can share our story, we show God’s love in what we do but we need use words as well to speak about our faith and why.

 

  1. We are already quite Jesus Shaped but we need to communicate why we do what we do.

 

  1. Jesus wants us to enjoy ourselves with others (eg steam club) Jesus is with us there too – he often went to “parties.” It’s about being fully alive.

 

  1. We are ordinary people and it’s OK to do ordinary things

 

  1. Jesus always had an eye on people and an eye on God at the same time.

 

  1. There is a positive energy and peace


celebrate

I spent this morning with the wonderful folk at St Anne’s, West Heath, an estate parish a few miles from here. I’ve been accompanying St Anne’s as they have engaged with Jesus Shaped People (see my previous posts about JSP here).  Today we gathered to reflect on how it has gone and to do some discernment together on where God might be leading them next.

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This sort of day is one of the best parts of my ministry, a wonderful way to spend time.  To see a group of people growing together in confidence, love, fellowship and commitment.  There is a real sense of creativity and faithfulness at the heart of West Heath – imaginative children’s work; committed service to those in most need in the local community; an ongoing journey to make the culture of the Church fit the local culture.

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Often it is easy for those of us in small, poor churches to be depressed.  The work can be hard and unremitting.  We can’t do all the things we want.  We unconsciously compare ourselves with large suburban churches.

Let’s remember to celebrate who we are and what we are.  To release our creative energy.  To follow Jesus.  To be led by the Spirit.

So often there is beautiful and ground-breaking work that is unnoticed.

As someone said, “Blessed are the poor for their’s is the kingdom of heaven”



what is the way?

Two quotes below which we used in the sermon at St Bede’s this morning as a basis for exploration of what our relationship with God is.  Thanks to the many people who have shared the Richard Rohr quote (Laurie Green makes a very similar point in Blessed are the Poor?) and to Simon Foster for the Metropolitan Anthony quote.  The quotes related a lot to what we have been up to in the past few years in terms of learning from the Jesus’ teaching through Jesus Shaped People.  It led us into a wonderful time of sharing some very hard won stories and insights.  (In terms of the Richard Rohr quote, by the way, we decided we could have both).

“We worshipped Jesus instead of following him on his same path. We made Jesus into a mere religion instead of a journey toward union with God and everything else. This shift made us into a religion of “belonging and believing” instead of a religion of transformation.”

  • Richard Rohr The Naked Now

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“Basically humility is the attitude of one who stands constantly under the judgment of God. It is the attitude of one who is like the soil. Humility comes from the Latin word ‘humus’, fertile ground. The fertile ground is there, unnoticed, taken for granted, always there to be trodden upon. It is silent, inconspicuous, dark and yet it is always ready to receive any seed, ready to give it subbstance and life. The more lowly, the more fruitful, becaues it become really fertile when it accepts all the refuse of the earth. It is so low that nothing can soil it, abase it, humiliate it; it has accepted the last place and cannot go any lower. In that position nothing can shatter the soul’s serentiy, its peace and joy.”

Living Prayer, by Anthony Bloom



circling

I love how the journey circles and twists on itself, forward and back.

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I spent this morning with the wonderful folk at St Paul and St Silas, Lozells, preaching at Mass and helping them prepare for Jesus Shaped People which they start next week.  I went from there back to St Gabriel’s, Weoley Castle for the leaving do for Jenny Cavendish, who has been the Children’s Worker there for the past years.  It was very good to be back with everyone there, to find them in good heart as they wait for a new priest, and to see how the life in that special place continues to develop.

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On our holiday we visited pilgrim places I have not been to for a couple of decades.  We drove through the narrow and twisting road towards the Pembrokeshire Coast.  I’d checked that the army weren’t firing on the Castlemartin Ranges, and we went past the unmanned checkpoint to the carpark above the cliffs.  We climbed down the stairs to St Govan’s Chapel and Well nestling in the inlet where Govan hid from pirates in Celtic times.  Next year, when I make my pilgrimage round Wales I will divert for a couple of days and spend time here, walking along the Coast Path from Tenby.  It is a place where heaven feels close.

Later, we spent a day in St David’s.  Here is the Cathedral and the restored Shrine:

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People keep telling me I need to visit St David’s on my pilgrimage.  I have been hesitating, but I am persuaded now.  I will probably leave the Coast Path at Neyland, soon after St Govan’s Head, and work out an inland path, as this will save a few days.  There is such richness, such possibility ahead.



excursion

A beautiful couple of days to help build up the foundations that underpin the practice of love here.

I went to Yorkshire.  I took my father in law back to Leeds – he’d been staying with us for a few days for a wedding.  I then headed off into the Dales.  One of the fruits of my recent research into the Carmelite Mystics has been building new friendships.  One of these has been with one of the nuns at a Carmel there.  We spent a chunk of the afternoon talking and laughing about the deep and important things.  I have some more shape and support in my praying and reading.

And then to the city of Bradford to see Gordon Dey, the remarkable outer estate priest who has developed Jesus Shaped People, the way of reshaping the life and culture of these parishes that we are benefitting from so much here.  After wonderful hospitality, we went to a meeting of Welfare Reform Impact Bradford where it was inspiring to hear local activists here about the effects that the reforms are having on local people, and what is being done to change hearts and minds about this.

Next day was a gathering of clergy from the churches in Bradford which have done Jesus Shaped People.  Rather than meet on an estate we went here

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although heavy rain kept us inside admiring the view.

It was good for me to meet with others in similar situations, to reflect together on our ministry, to see how JSP is working in practice in other parishes, to pray and think together, to see the wonderful creative and loving energy of some very impressive colleagues.  I have a great deal to reflect and ponder upon in the coming days.

And then back home and into work today, May 8th, the Feast of St Julian of Norwich

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Here is a Collect for her by Janet Morley:

Christ our true mother,
you have carried us within you, laboured with us,
and brought us to bliss.
Enclose us in your care,
that in stumbling we may not fall,
nor be overcome by evil,
but know that all shall be well. Amen