“If you don’t know where you’re going you will end up somewhere else” attributed to Canadian Laurence Peters underscores the importance of being intentional about the things we do and how we do them. Jesus set out his own intentionality right at the beginning of his ministry in Luke 4 he read out words from Isaiah then pointed to himself as their fulfillment. “I am about”, he was saying, “bringing good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and freedom for the oppressed.”
The Diocese of Durham in declaring the good news of Jesus for today’s world focuses on three specific priority areas: Children and Young People, Growing the Church, and Challenging Poverty. These areas of focus have allowed us to direct our strategic choices, ensuring that resources are put into the areas, and initiatives, that will see outcomes worked out that link back to these priorities.
It is the vision of this Diocese that all our children and young people are rich in opportunity, and aspiration within safe and healthy environments, knowing just how much they matter, to God who loves them all dearly. We long to see churches, by which I mean people not buildings, that shine with grace, whose works of love illuminate the whole region as they continue the work of Jesus in the world. We pray and work for a day when our foodbanks will no longer be needed, when all people have the opportunity to work in rewarding fulfilling roles, earning what they need, and living in mutual dignity and respect, that poverty is consigned to history.
The resourcing church agenda is a part of that strategy, it is about children and young people, it is about growing the church and it is about challenging poverty. As such in each of our first five locations those priorities have been a part of shaping our planning and are directing our praying. For example in Durham we are planning to work specifically with young people through a range of activities and engagement opportunities. In Stockton some of the most marginalised will be the most welcome, eating together in community groups, supporting each through the discovery of their intrinsic value despite a society that has written them off. In Bishop Auckland children are discovering what it means to take a lead, growing in confidence as they engage with the Jesus agenda of compassion and abundant life. In Gateshead and Washington new churches will be born to take the love of God across areas of huge population but few faith communities.
Resourcing churches are about resourcing growth, about sharing good news, and about taking the hope that Christian people find in Jesus out across their villages, towns and cities. This hope is the one reflected in the priorities Jesus spoke of and so continues to be worked through His body (the church) today. A church that is about brining good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and freedom for the oppressed. This is not new, but it is revolutionary, it is not rocket science, but it is life changing, for this is God engaging with people, through the person of Jesus worked out through in today’s world.
So resourcing churches are really all about strategy, choices made that will enable the God ordained outcomes spoken of by Jesus to be evident in our midst. They align with the priorities the diocese has been called to champion, children and young people, growing churches, and challenging poverty. So if you would like to join in with us in the work of God in your place why not drop me a line at David.Tomlinson@Durham.anglican.org I would love to hear from you.