Church Must Respond to Seismic Cultural Changes

The Ven. Simon Burton-Jones Archdeacon of Rochester has set down an impassioned challenge to churches in the diocese to respond to the Holy Spirit and the world around us. The Archdeacon was addressing Diocesan Synod on Saturday 15 October, setting out a theological basis for a strategic framework for the Diocese.

The Archdeacon said: “[The current] revolution in personal communication will alter the social architecture irrevocably, impacting upon lives more intimately than anything that has gone before.  It is the biggest social experiment in human history”.

He went on to explain “But still we carry on as if nothing has really happened. For the Church this would be a mistake. Its historic calling is to a dual listening role. It should open its ears to the world: to make sense of the changes taking place. And to the Holy Spirit, to enable the Church to respond to these changes, that its people may live more fruitfully as disciples of Christ”. 

The creation of a diocesan strategy is a response to the many remarkable things that are happening around us.  In the midst of rapid and volatile change, we need to shape our mission – through evangelism and community action – in a way that demonstrates the coming Kingdom of God.  The Church exists to give shape and voice to Christian identity”.The full text is available here.and Audio file available here

The Archdeacon introduced Our Conversation; Our Future,  a period of conversation across the Diocese of Rochester to listen to each other and to the Holy Spirit to discern the vision for our shared mission.

Toolkit Launched
The session at the Diocesan Synod also saw the launch of a Toolkit resource to help everyone across the diocese explore the Our Conversation; Our Future questions in a little more depth.

Responses to Our Conversation; Our Future will be used to discern a new diocesan strategic framework. Responses can be posted, send via the website or emailed, to be received by Easter Sunday 2017. This is an intentionally good amount of time to give everyone the opportunity to listen to God and one another.

As Bishop James explains in the introduction, “You might want to use it in a PCC meeting, or bring the congregation together in a parish, chaplaincy or other setting. You can engage in Our Conversation; Our Future in synods, chapter meetings, quiet days, youth events, social gatherings, anywhere you like – the options are endless. We have sought to give you different ways to approach the questions, so you can choose what works best for you”.

The variety of activities was put to the test at Synod as members explored the question “What may the Holy Spirit be saying to us about our area?” through creating newspaper collages, group bible study and personal reflection.
The Toolkit is available to download from the diocesan website

By Claire Boxall

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