Friday, 3 December 2010

Guest blog from Nigel O'Dwyer
Welcome again,

I can see that this is going to become a habit - sitting down and making a stab at 'the church in Worthing now'.

Why is that important? Surely each church simply gets on and does its own thing?

Yes and no. It is true that each church will have its own programme - meetings, one-to-ones, community work - but it is also true that many work more effectively in conjunction with others. Some of the most exciting developments have been in the centre of town where some dozen or more churches regularly relate to one another, worship together, plan events and work with their (larger) community.

And that 'larger community' isn't really interested in the differences between churches. Christians may know what those differences mean and some distinctions can be useful but, by and large, the only difference that most people want to know about is the one between  following Jesus Christ and not following him. What does 'Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done' mean in practice? And does it matter?

Recently, I've been asked to join the LSP - the Local Strategic Partnership. As the local government website puts it 'Communities and local government believe more gets done if people in an area work together.'

No, not exactly the most profound new thinking. What is new is that nothing has been done in the past to try to link together all the main players in a community. First, they have had to envision a better way of living and working. Then they had to work out how it can be achieved - not some huge master-plan that governs all our lives but just an ongoing method of working together.  [See more here:
http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/performanceframeworkpartnerships/localstrategicpartnerships]

The document that sets out the overview for Worthing and Adur has now been completed. Dozens of groups have contributed and thousands of individual people have also given their views. In the coming months, you'll hear more of how it's all designed to work in practice.

The key thing for the churches is to present their core belief - that Jesus is Lord - and to unpack that in a way that makes sense. What difference does knowing Jesus and knowing that He is Lord actually make? Recognising how to do that and knowing the right moments to say it is going to be a challenge, I suspect. And then keeping it simple and direct. 'Wise as serpents, innocent as doves' seems the proper text here!

The good thing is the huge amount of good practice - in terms of service to the community - that's already a feature of the church. I'll come back to that next time.

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