The Queensland Synod Have A Go mission coaching pilot began in July 2019. Dianne Jensen checks in for an update on how coaching is helping turn ideas into reality. This issue we focus on two projects at Redcliffe Uniting Church.
You have this great idea … but what comes next? Enter the Have A Go mission coaching pilot, an initiative of Queensland Synod Strategic Mission in partnership with UnitingCare Queensland and Bremer Brisbane, South Moreton and Central Queensland presbyteries.
The program was launched at Synod in Session last year and invited expressions of interest in free monthly coaching sessions from people with ideas for mission in their local community. It’s a strategy which has helped regenerate the Port Phillip West Presbytery in Victoria through the growth of focused community ministries.
Executive Officer Synod Chaplaincy Commission Rev Keren Seto is one of the seven Queensland coaches trained by Rev Dr Adam McIntosh (Associate Director of Mission, UnitingCare Queensland) and Rev Rose Broadstock.
“Some of the expressions of interest were really ideas, aspirations. There were others where the initiatives were further down the track and quite sophisticated. The coaching process has been able in some instances to clarify focus, realign focus, and in others to sharpen the focus as it develops,” says Keren.
“It’s freedom to think outside the box about what church looks like.”
At the heart of community
Redcliffe Uniting Church has two projects in the coaching pilot; the community hub (which is close to finalisation) and the existing community garden.
The community hub project will bring welfare and other services together in a new building on the church premises. Candy Hunter, spokesperson for the Redcliffe mission coaching group, says that the hub will facilitate stronger links between the church and other community organisations as well as creating new links with the community.
“The aim of our mission coaching is to help us integrate the life of the church with the mission of the hub. We want to build a mission, rather than a building, in line with our stated mission of being ‘at the heart of the Peninsula’. The philosophy behind our project is that our church believes that mission isn’t from the top down, or from the pulpit to the pews, but from the pews to the people.
“Not only is the mission coaching helping to provide a framework for our ideas but a broader framework across the scope of the church as a whole. Additionally, it provides a sounding board from someone well qualified and experienced in this area.”
Through the coaching experience, the congregation has refined and targeted its understanding and approach to mission.
“We have learned that timing is important and the value of a gentle approach to outreach. We’re aiming for a major but gradual change in focus,” says Candy.
The Redcliffe community garden is an extension of the congregation’s desire to link more closely with the general community.
“When the community hub is built, people will not only come to access a specific service but will also appreciate informal areas to talk and relax. We currently share our site with UnitingCare, and host access visits for families under supervision from the Department of Communities, so this need is already apparent. Both workers and clients need some ‘down time’. Additionally, the garden can provide a ‘soft entry’ to those learning about our faith.”
The mission coaching is helping Candy, who is a horticulturist with experience in community organisations, to clarify the goals for the garden and to target potential gardeners as well as general community involvement.
“So far I have learned to more effectively target my enthusiasm by focusing on specific steps towards the goal rather than adopting a more scattergun approach,” says Candy.