The Big Conversation follow up

Some days ago we announced The Big Conversation and were very interested in the outcome of the thoughts brought together by our brethren and sisters.

Held at Dudley College on October 10th 2015 the Big Conversation was an opportunity for brothers and sisters from UK ecclesias to share their thoughts and feelings about the future of our community in the UK and in particular, our reducing size.

We may not forget

It is not the numbers, but what happens to the lives of the people who are the numbers that indicates success for a church.  The early church was made up of house churches with small numbers—but they changed the world by living their faith every day, even in the face of persecution and death! {Is “Bigger Better” in Churches?}

As followers of Christ Jesus we should remember all his teachings and be willing to become workers for God, deciphering ourselves away and us becoming nothing, and Christ everything.

Nine brothers and sisters from Newbury attended the above gathering and the following is a summary of the discussion during the day;

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The day began by unaccompanied singing of ‘Lead me Lord’ by the 400 plus attendees and prayer. The first information session started with Bro Jon Downes (Worcester) giving a fascinating talk on ‘What is happening?’ He gave an overview of the numerical decline of the community in the UK with the mantra;

“It’s not about the numbers, but the numbers tell the story.”

The details will be available in due course but essentially the numerical size of the community in the UK is declining at quite a rapid rate with an aging profile that will make many ecclesias unsustainable quite soon.
It was stated that there are 256 ecclesias in the UK with a total membership of aprox. 8000. In many ecclesias over 25% of members are over 75 years of age and for many small ecclesias the figure is much higher.

It was stated that the ‘idea of no change’ was not an option. Change is happening it’s how the change is managed that is critical for the survival of our community in the UK. Key words were;

Glowing, Sowing and Growing’.

Bro Arne Roberts gave the second talk on ‘Why it matters’. Arne looked at Biblical examples of change and response to change. He suggested that the word church suggested several ideas; firstly CH = Christ, secondly UR. i.e. we are the church, the body of Christ and thirdly CH = Christ. Some key phrases were; ‘Unity in Diversity’, ‘Being a member is not being a clone’ and ‘Church is about meeting, not about meetings’. Arne suggested that are we are easily distracted using our energy about peripheral matters whereas the centre of our faith is ‘The Word’ both the Bible and the message it contains about Jesus Christ.

Significant phrases were;

The importance of listening to understand, not listening to interrupt.

A lot of people feel their ecclesial life is ruled more by fear than love. But ‘perfect love drives out fear.’

The rest of the morning and part of the afternoon was arranged into ‘break-out groups’ where a range of topics and many ideas were generated. These will be circulated in the future as the organizing committee is able to collate and report.

The final session on Saturday was to try to pull together some of what had happened during the day.

With c450 people, there, there was no way everyone could have had a conversation with everyone else so the organisers tried to give a flavour of what had been going on across all the groups. They’d done a short video capturing people’s views on what they would like our community to look like in the next 5-10 years. They also brought 9 people up on stage (3 young, 3 middle aged and 3 in the prime of their lives!) and questioned them about what they were taking out of the day and what they’d like to see happen in our community. We also were given ‘mini action plans’ to complete that ask what (if anything) we plan to do to follow up on the day and we were encouraged to complete them. One interesting item was a short presentation by a brother representing a group called ‘Beyond Lecturing’. This is a small group that has been meeting for about a year to plan how we can, as a Christadelphian body, get better at preaching the good news e.g. by having better training for our ‘speakers’.

Overall, it was an interesting day, providing a unique opportunity to discuss future directions and initiatives for our community.

– Colin E. & Miriam

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Preceding articles:

The Big Conversation

Evangelisation, local preaching opposite overseas evangelism

The Right One to follow and to worship

Wanting to live in Christ’s city

A participation in the body of Christ

Positive Preaching Day 2015

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Additional reading:

  1. People are turning their back on Christianity
  2. Catholicism, Anabaptism and Crisis of Christianity
  3. Judeo-Christian values and liberty
  4. A Living Faith #8 Change
  5. Change
  6. Control and change
  7. Control your destiny or somebody else will
  8. Only I can change my life
  9. How to Find the Meaning of Life and Reach a State of Peace
  10. Re–forming ourselves
  11. How do you define religion?
  12. How long to wait before bringing religiousness and spirituality in practice
  13. Some one or something to fear #5 Not afraid
  14. Many forgot how Christ should be our anchor and our focus
  15. A participation in the body of Christ
  16. Disciple of Christ counting lives and friends dear to them
  17. Blogging in the world for Jesus and his Father
  18. Learn how to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News of the coming Kingdom
  19. Obstacles to effective evangelism
  20. Commitment to Christian unity
  21. United people under Christ
  22. Integrity of the fellowship
  23. Keeping an ecclesia in modern times
  24. Small churches of the few Christadelphians
  25. Missionary action paradigm for all endeavours of the church
  26. Congregate, to gather, to meet
  27. Meeting – Vergadering
  28. Be an Encourager
  29. You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone
  30. Parish, local church community – Parochie, plaatselijke kerkgemeenschap
  31. Congregation – Congregatie
  32. Dissolution of Bijbelvorsers (Bible scholars), Association for Bible study
  33. There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving
  34. An academic year ending, again a new year standing ready for us
  35. Our openness to being approachable
  36. Unity doesn’t mean uniformity
  37. En Soma: One Body
  38. To whom do we want to be enslaved
  39. Quibbling siblings united or allied children of an organisation or a church
  40. Delay in publications because attack from outside
  41. Let us not fret or worry about next season
  42. Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 3
  43. Theologians and a promised Spirit to enlighten us
  44. Background to look at things
  45. To remove the whitewash of the Jehovah Witnesses as being the only true Bible Students and Bible Researchers
  46. Bread and Wine
  47. The Ecclesia
  48. Let us become nothing, and Christ everything
  49. Who are the Christadelphians
  50. What are Brothers in Christ
  51. Christadelphian Auxiliary Lecturing Society in changed times

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Further reading:

  1. Full Circle
  2. On your way down
  3. On Mission for the Church Alive! What About You?
  4. 3 Things to Help Build Our Faith
  5. Who Do You Say I Am?
  6. Termites in our Churches
  7. Different ways
  8. Churches Stuck in a Rut, or Transformed?
  9. Crazy Churches!!
  10. Is “Bigger Better” in Churches?
  11. 7 Days without God makes One Weak
  12. The Death of the Bible College (and what it means for the Church)
  13. Preaching for the Future, by Rev. Kerry Greenhill
  14. Consistently or Conveniently
  15. Missions and Evangelism
  16. Worship and Mission: The Great Paradox
  17. Sermon: Back to the Basics (10/25/2015)
  18. Who can preach so well as a sinner?
  19. Bishop Secular: Men Lie, Women Lie, Numbers Don’t!
  20. Our Church Meetings
  21. A quick thought on community
  22. You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian?
  23. If Church is so Important, Then Why Did Jesus Only Mention It a Couple of Times?
  24. The church is God’s idea and it is a good one!
  25. The Selfishness of Skipping Church
  26. Rise Above a Ghetto View of Church
  27. When you quit going to church
  28. A Pastor’s Perspective on Pastor Appreciation Month
  29. (10/05/2015) A Correct Church?
  30. Will You Worship?

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