Theology and values: Live | Pray | Serve
Our diocesan sense of vocation is formed around three key commitments: to live, to pray, and to serve. Believing in Jesus Christ as the source of our hope and salvation, we are:
- called to live our lives in ways that are formed by his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and coming again. Emboldened by the gift of the Holy Spirit at our baptism, we are sent out into the world to tell and to live the Good News of God in Jesus Christ.
- called to pray, on our own and together in community, following the practices of daily life and worship that have shaped Christians through the ages. We are to seek God’s will in prayer and to hold each other’s needs and the needs of our world on our hearts before God.
- called to love and serve the people among whom we live and work, caring for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. Speaking prophetically, we are also to seek the kingdom of God among us, and to act as its servants in upholding truth and justice.
Culture and Character
If this is our commission and therefore our purpose, then we will want to grow in character as individuals and cultivate a healthy culture among us in order to fulfil what God asks of us.
We will need to act with unity for the sake of the gospel and for all people within our churches, within our parishes and within the diocese as a whole.
We will want to live lives that embody the fruits of the spirit: lives filled with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These will always be the marks by which we are known and by which we make Christ known to others.
We will also need to challenge ourselves and each other to return to the commission given to us at our baptism, to go out and make new disciples. In order to do this, we will need to be a community of disciples which is:
- courageous – bold in our actions, willing to make decisions that we and others have shied away from in the past, and not just for the sake of those left within our churches, but for those who might never consider entering them;
- collaborative – reforming our structures so that people are better able to work together, across parishes, deaneries, ecumenically, and throughout the diocese, because we believe that we are one body with many parts all working in the service of God;
- generous – sharing our time, money, and other resources with those who have least, being patient and supportive as communities discover and offer their own gifts, consciously and prayerfully choosing to let our resources follow what we believe God is asking us to do in mission.
- resourceful – being good stewards who see that God gives us what is sufficient to do God’s work, who make the most of what we have, and who take opportunities for mission as they arise;
- pioneering – following the first disciples after Pentecost, considering with fresh and transformed eyes what we need to do to reach others with the good news of Christ, being willing to let go of the habits which hinder us, and to put others and their faith first.
These are our diocesan values, which we now place at the foot of every item of literature, to remind us that they should be part of our DNA as parishes, chaplaincies and church schools.
Context: Renewal and Reform
We undertake our work within the structures and support of the wider Church of England, its current programme of Renewal and Reform, and the release of some of its historic assets in the form of strategic development, sustainability and transformational funding.
We understand renewal to be the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, which makes each of us a new creation as we find and live out our identity in Christ. That same Spirit works in our communities, including in our churches and schools, to bring new life and energy to the proclamation of the gospel and to our work and service in the world.
We understand reformation to work at different levels. It is a call to individuals and communities to attend to the word of God, to live lives which are shaped by faithful discipleship, to repent and to be made new in baptism, to be sent out to make new disciples. It is also a call to the church to reform its structures and to make sure that it is governed wisely and justly, operates ethically and resourcefully, and ministers with joy and hope, proclaiming the gospel afresh to each generation whilst speaking prophetically into the issues of its day.
Within our structures we need to consider how the board of finance can best serve our parishes in fulfilling this vision. Working in collaboration with our parishes, the board of finance will act as enablers of the vision and strategy within the diocese, serving as expert advisors, critical friends and supportive partners in the gospel mission.
As a diocese, as church and school communities, and as individuals, we need to be renewed and reformed. We live in a fast-changing culture where people’s living and working patterns make commitment seem difficult, and we know that as a church we have lost some of the expectations and habits of making new disciples and of seeing churches renewed. We are less likely than we once were to be part of church communities which are growing, refreshed by new members, with young and old worshipping and serving together.
Some of our current ecclesial structures do not serve us well, giving the impression of an institution which does not want to change, and which finds it impossible to be swift and adaptable when reform is needed. Some parishes are burdened by administration and financial worries. We will reform parts of our parish system so that ministry and mission can be both more coordinated and more responsive to the needs of local communities.
In our local context, we are working out the hope of renewal and reform through our Live | Pray | Serve strategy and its associated commitments. We continue to ask God to reform and renew us, individually and corporately, so that we can live out the call to be witnesses to the good news of God in Jesus Christ.
We pray for the Spirit to guide our decision making and our work. We pray that we might see God’s kingdom thriving in our communities and parishes and our churches growing in depth, impact, and number.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ offer the world a better story, a better narrative to live by.