Posted by Mission Catalyst at 13:04 on 9th June 2011
The pastoral and missional ministries of both Jesus and Paul combined three key elements: proclamation of God’s message, demonstration of the Spirit’s power, and a deep sharing of lives (1 Thess 1: 5; 2: 8).
From the outset, the vision for gariochchurch has been to build a church in which proclamation and power are embedded within a real expression of community – not just for fellowship, but also outreach.
This has meant changing our expectation that the primary focus of church should be an ever-growing, central, weekly, worship and teaching event.
Instead, we emphasise the deliberately small, local, home-based groups, in which people of all ages regularly share a meal together – perhaps more like the New Testament churches, which didn’t have large, non-domestic premises.
The semi-rural catchment area for gariochchurch is a corridor along the A96, north-west of Aberdeen. Twenty miles long and ten miles wide, it embraces seven small, but rapidly expanding, towns.
Working closely with the local council, we’re learning how each of these has its own character and distinctives, and it’s been important to encourage those who live in these towns to ‘be church’ near their neighbours.
It’s amazing how many more friends and work colleagues will come to a ‘baby dedication’, and even participate, when it happens in someone’s back-garden rather than in a church building!
We’ve found that newcomers to the church don’t remain on the periphery of the community for long when there are regular, shared meals with the same families. It’s no surprise that deep relationships are costly, and soon reveal what is genuine Christian maturity.
It’s exciting to challenge our small groups by giving each an annual budget for local mission. And, it’s rewarding to watch people gradually discover how to articulate their own faith across the generations, from pre-school to pensioners, and bring their faith into their families and neighbourhoods.
By David Anderson
More at www.gariochchurch.org.uk