06 February 2017 IN: Bishop
This month sees the launch of the book, God's Belongers, which I was asked to write to make my research findings more accessible to anyone interested in the life and mission of their local church. It's an attempt to understand better how people, many of whom we don't see very often attending our services, may continue to have a Christian faith that matters to them. And then to offer ideas to engage with such Belongers in ways that help them to deepen both their faith and the practice of it.
Published on 17 February, I'm sure there will be aspects of it that some people will disagree with - in fact I hope there will be! We need a lively debate about what counts as mission and how we can be more effective at it. And it's a debate that needs to draw on the whole range of churchmanship within Anglicanism. Above all, that debate needs to be grounded in a real attempt to understand those around us. Too often, many of us have reduced mission to "doing the things I like best really well, so others will join in and like them too".
I've sought to make the book very practical, full of examples of what churches can do in order to take the religious faith of those around them more seriously. And in keeping with our diocesan theme of joining in the conversation, each chapter ends with three or four questions for individual reflection or group study. I hope it will assist both our diocese and the wider church in taking forward the mission to which God has called us.