Attending the “Leading your Church into Growth Conference”

RevMel has recently attended the UK based “Leading your Church to Growth” conference, (commonly known as ‘Lycig’ for those in the know).  There were about 100 other Anglicans (both clergy and lay leaders) mainly from Dioceses throughout Melbourne.  Although, some did fly in from interstate, I was one, and one even travelled from Bali – all gathering to learn the seven principles to leading your church to growth.

Here is a run down of the schedule we followed:

On the first day we learned the importance of creating a prayerful culture of growth.  This means incorporating praying for growth at every service and gathering.  I’m sure you’ll notice prayers on this theme appearing in our services in the coming weeks. Next, we learnt about implementing the four Ps (Prayer, Presence, Proclamation, and Persuasion), ensuring that we are creating many opportunities to pray, be present, proclaim the Gospel and be persuasive in our witness of God’s goodness in our lives. Finally on Tuesday we looked how to practice fruitful evangelism and the wide variety of models of evangelism in the New Testament.  We learnt that we are all encouraged to share God’s goodness in our own way.  Archbishop Justin Welby wrote “Evangelism is from God, about God, with God and because of God.  As witnesses of Jesus we become witnesses to Jesus, relaying what we have experienced to others.

Then, as Wednesday dawned, we looked more closely at how to make worship engaging for both regulars and those who don’t normally come to church.  Next, we looked at how to become an inviting and welcoming church, ensuring that we are presenting a family atmosphere, hospitality, maintaining effective pastoral care, how we can encourage children and teenagers.  This last area, as you know, has been an area of interest for me and the content prompted me to come away with ideas of how to initiate some new relationships with our nearby primary and preschools.

As Thursday dawned, we looked at how to create pathways for seekers to become disciples. Particularly in our environment, this means making the transition for our Community Dinner Church diners to attend either our traditional service or evening ‘experience God’ service as easy as possible. This may involve running an Alpha or Christianity Explored course.  I’m pondering how we can make this journey easy for them.  Also, I was interested to learn how I could reconnect with our baptism families, many of whom while enjoying our traditional service, have not found it possible to return back to worship with us.  This made me particularly interested to look into the possibility of running a “parenting your children” Alpha for our baptism families.  At the conclusion of this Alpha, I’ll be asking the families how they themselves would like to worship, rather than designing a service for them that may not meet their needs.

Finally, in the last session, we look at how we can ensure disciples of Christ grow to maturity. Maturity means being confident to speak of our faith to others and helping them move towards meeting Jesus for themselves.  This involves running evangelism training courses, some of which I was familiar but others which were new to me.

Overall, I found the conference greatly inspiring and re-energising to once again ponder creative ways to engage with our community. It is so easy to get distracted and ‘bogged down’ in everyday church life that we can forget or lose sight of the mission Christ called us to – a mission to leave our comfort and routine and go out and make disciples from those in our community.