MEMBERS OF the 11th Assembly will be asked to think outside the box to help foster faith development and approve ways to form new congregations and faith communities in Uniting Church schools and community service agencies.
The 11th Assembly will be asked to endorse the document Being Church Differently: Encouragement and guidance for the formation of new Congregations and Faith Communities of the UCA within institutional and other settings for distribution and use across the life of the Uniting Church.
Responding to recent growth in the number of Uniting Church schools and community service agencies, Being Church Differently offers guidance to presbyteries, congregations and agencies in fostering faith development outside the structures of “normal” congregations.
The National Assembly’s Consultant for Theology and Discipleship, Rev Dr Robert Bos said faith formation cannot happen in isolation and requires the support of a Christian community as people journey.
“Just as it take a village to raise a child, it takes a Christian Community to evangelise and nurture a new Christian,” he said.
“Christians have many kinds of contact with people, but need support in turning these contacts into disciple making opportunities.
Dr Bos is concerned with the increasing distance between the Uniting Church’s extensive community service network and the life of congregations.
“If we do not provide opportunities for faith develop-ment outside the inherited ‘normal’ structures, people will go elsewhere, or miss the opportunity to come to faith. There is a huge evangelistic opportunity for the Uniting Church through its very extensive community services networks.
“If we do not recognise this and seize the opportunities, we may well be falling short of our calling as a Christian community.”
“Being Church Differently suggests ways in which we might use our community service agencies and schools to offer more in the area of faith formation, as a fuller expression of the gospel of Christ.
“The document suggests that words (professing the faith) and deeds (providing community services) should not be separated, and that deeds by themselves do not always speak clearly.”
As well as offering encouragement to congre-gations, Being Church Differently canvasses a number of important issues including the essentials of forming a new congregation or faith
community, cautionary tales and considerations, examples of places new congregations might be formed and some questions and answers.
If endorsed by the 11th Assembly, Being Church Differently will be distributed across the church for use over the next three years.
Click here to view or download Being Church Differently from the 11th Assembly website. http://nat.uca.org.au/11thassembly
Photo : National Assembly Consultant for Theology and Discipleship Rev Dr Robert Bos