We had a really good vision evening earlier this week where we explained our vision for the next phase of our ministry. We are really pleased to say that we have just heard that the Diocesan Bishop’s Council has just unanimously agreed on our new Bishop’s Mission Order (BMO). This BMO gives us a remit to multiply our work out across Poole Deanery, working with other churches and partners. The two man strands of this work will be i) enabling the planting of new missional communties and ii) enabling others to use the Quiet Breathing Space material.

At our vision evening Paul Bradbury, leader of PMC outlined the basis for new missional communities and Emily Bradbury described how Quiet Breathing Spaces has developed and how we aim to support people with this resource in the future. The following is a summary of their presentations:

PMC offers a framework to nurture new experimental forms of mission and Christian community. The values that underpin our work are

  1. Missional life – to be a disciples is to live in such a way as to witness to the Christian life
  2. Incarnational ministry – our mission begins by ‘being with’ others in our communities and networks
  3. Community – Christian communal life is the basis for all mission and disciple making.

From these values the approach of forming missional communities had developed. These communities share a number of distinctive qualities. They are:

  • Communal – they are not teams, formed to execute a project, but communities formed to embody Jesus’ life and message.
  • Intentional – they form around an intention to connect with particular places or groups of people
  • Incarnational – they start by living, working, listening and serving amongst and with people
  • Experimental – they are willing to take risks and try stuff out, with a healthy openness to failure and adaptation
  • Sodal – they relate to the modal (or established) church, but are freed from its responsibilities and demands in order to focus on their call to mission.

And there are 2 main reasons why we are committed to seeing new missional communities planted in Poole.

Firstly because of the ongoing change in our mission context. Our society has moved from one that saw the church as central to its life and narrative to one where the church is increasingly peripheral. If you think of culture like gravity, then it was as if church used to be at the bottom of a valley and culture brought people to the door of the church through weddings, baptisms, bereavements, the rhythms of weekly and yearly life. Now, whilst there is still some of that left, we are like the church on the side of a hill – our post-Christian culture draws people increasingly away from church. So we have to find ways of engaging with this culture. And that requires us to make a journey to be with people in their culture.

Secondly, in general, large institutions are not great at innovating. Innovation tends to happen at the edge of institutions and then bring change to the centre. But institutions can enable innovation by creating space and support for creatives and entrepreneurs. We believe this is part of the role of pioneers in the church – that in giving them space to follow their call to reach people beyond the edges of the church’s current reach, they in turn bring much needed innovation to the centre. At PMC we believe there is a movement of the Spirit that we are seeing in pioneers coming forward expressing this kind of call. And we are trying to enable PMC to be a place where pioneers can carry out this call, providing a supportive and enabling space for pioneers, both lay and ordained.

So to try and enable and nurture more missional communities we are looking to do the following:

  • Discern a context – asking where might a missional community enable new or renewed missional presence?
  • Find a leader – is there a leader emerging, or can we find one to lead mission there?
  • Form a community – we would encourage them to draw a small community around them and are looking to partner with other churches to find people willing to do this.
  • Work in partnership with others – very often the local established church recognises the need and perhaps has a leader or the beginnings of a missional community
  • Enable incarnational living – we are looking to see what creative was we can find to provide housing for people to be present in context
  • Provide training and support – through our learning community and 1:1 missional mentoring.

And we are also going to continue to provide resources and support for people connecting with unchurched people through spirituality and creativity.

This work emerged from our experience of the Space for Life community. We have recently come to the end of a 2-year project funded by the Aldhelm Fund to pass on our learning to others. From this project it was clear that the Quiet Breathing Spaces resource and training was something people were keen to run with. For this reason we are investing to continue to with this strand of the work. We plan to be able to:

  • Offer further training & resourcing for you to run Quiet Breathing Spaces in your community
  • Develop physical Library of existing themes & add new themes
  • Develop an on-going hub support for facilitators (online & twice yearly hub support days)

We’re really encouraged by the endorsement of PMC by the Diocese of Salisbury with the new BMO and excited at what the future holds for our ministry.

If you’d be interested in getting involved, working with us, learning from us, supporting us, then do please get in touch!  admin@poolemc.org.uk