Recently I went through some of the old files in my office. That’s when I came across the work of the 2050 Group. This group met in 2010 and looked at ways to make St Paul’s sustainable and ready to engage with the community to 2050 and beyond. The group took a long-term view of the life of the church. Some possible changes were identified, which would make the church better able to face the future.
Some of the planning was taken over by events. Even while the group was meeting in 2010, the first Canterbury Earthquake shook the city. More destruction followed through subsequent earthquakes. The issues that divided the Anglican Church in 2018 had long been on the horizon, but it was still difficult to plan for them, particularly since the Anglican Church in New Zealand chose a path that was far more accommodating than that chosen by other denominations and provinces. The pandemic was a largely unanticipated. Other developments in society also might not have played out quite as envisaged in 2010. We now know a lot more about that uncertainty.
Nevertheless, there was a lot of good work done then, which we might still look back to. Interestingly the group also referred back to a parish consultation in February 2007, which was summarised as follows:
Hopes for the future
– effectively reaching out into the community
– developing the work with parents of young people
-being brave to change the culture of our assemblies
– developing a younger people’s worship service
– groups praying for revival in Christchurch and New Zealand.
Aspects needing more attention:
– The need for encouragement and equipping to tackle new things and risk new initiatives
– Bible-based teaching that challenges and inspires
– lack of youth and 30-40 age group.
Common themes were the need to reach out into the community, create a worship atmosphere attractive to young families, develop youth leaders, home-based study groups, and inclusion of other local cultures.
Some of those needs are still there, though we may emphasize other aspects today. The implementation can be quite difficult and the world around us may change. Still, some planning and courage is always required, even in an uncertain world. Of course, it is not just the planning that’s important, but more so how we as a local church embody and align with God’s mission in the world.
Blessings – Tim