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Now for something completely different

Looking for innovative ways to connect to the broader community? Dianne Jensen finds out why mission shaped ministry may be able to help.

Mission shaped ministry (MSM), the innovative course from the UK challenging the way we think about church, will be rolled out to more Queensland Uniting Church members in 2016.

“A mission shaped church is a church fundamentally shaped by its approach to mission,” says Synod project officer (mission engagement) Scott Guyatt. “The MSM course is about equipping people to lead innovative, edgy and creative fresh expressions for those who don’t normally get church.”

The course was launched in Brisbane last year by Moreton Rivers and South Moreton presbyteries in a joint venture with Synod and Trinity College Queensland. This year Bremer Brisbane and at least one ecumenical partner (Churches of Christ) will join the team, which is convened by South Moreton Presbytery mission project officer Rev Beth Nicholls and Moreton Rivers Presbytery mission and education officer Rev Dr Robert McFarlane. Participants meet weekly over six months, with some Saturday field trips.

“The experience in the UK has been that this approach to resourcing fresh expressions of church has resulted in significant growth,” says Scott. “What they are finding is that only about 20 per cent of the people involved are church people—the rest are either ex-church or people completely new to faith–so as an approach to introducing people to faith and finding ways for Christian communities to connect to their broader community, the fresh expressions of church have been really effective.”

Scott says that bringing together people on a regular basis who are interested in shaping new communities of disciples can be a powerful catalyst.

“One of the really exciting things in the course last year was the way that the community of people participating shaped up.

“This year we want to really focus on that, particularly on the Saturday field days, by doing less content and more networking, storytelling and sharing. The other thing is to think about what learning networks or partnerships might look like, where a number of people from a region might do some work together, be mentored or coached or work together beyond the course itself to build on what they’ve learned.”

The msm team are keeping the momentum going by exploring models for regional delivery of the course. Following a successful trial in Toowoomba last year, more introductory intensive weekends will be offered outside metropolitan areas, and a webinar course will be available in the second half of 2016.

An introductory intensive weekend for the next Brisbane MSM course will be held 18 and 19 March with the course then continuing from April 13. For more information contact 07 3366 0236 or visit msmqld.com

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