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St John's Leadership Journey Update

As you may have gathered, we have an important commissioning service coming up at 10 am on Sunday 2 June (note the time of this service and that we will have just one combined service that day). This service, led by Bishop Saju, will not only mark Scott’s Licensing as Associate Ministry but also commission Scott and Sami into their evolving roles at St John’s. It will also commission the entire church family into the next phase of our journey as a Resourcing Church. Read on for a reminder of the leadership journey we are on and for more details about what will happen at the Commissioning Service. As you read this, I invite you to consider this journey prayerfully and thoughtfully, share with us any insight, wisdom, or prophetic leading that you think will help, and share any questions or concerns you may have.

 

As I write, I am inspired by the C of E vision of being a “simpler, humbler, and bolder” church. These words epitomize our recent leadership journey. This current phase of the journey began last summer when we did much foundational work around articulating and discussing the church's vision and values, and restructuring the team. At the heart of this were three simple but powerful questions that focused our discernment.

 

  1. We found ourselves asking, “What is God doing in Leicester/shire, and what are his purposes?” We had to conclude that His desire is to reach every person in the county, and for His transformational Kingdom to come. But all this is not just in a general timeless sense, but in a sense that he is on the move now and calling us to join in. This is where boldness comes in - to dare to believe that God has big purposes because He is a big God and that although there are currently many challenges and much uncertainty, God is working out his good purposes.

  2. Then, we asked, “If this is true, how does this happen?” Increasingly, our conviction is that it happens through making disciples, strengthening existing and planting new churches, and having a Kingdom and transformational mindset. Key components of this are that we seek to form a network of existing and new churches based on relationship and shared missional ethos, and we prioritise mission/ministry with the young and the poor.

  3. Third, we asked, “What part is God calling us to play in his plans?” This is where humility comes in. A key verse is John 12:24, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Everything we do, we want to do for the sake of the Kingdom and to serve others, not promote ourselves. We want to work out what it truly means to be a Resourcing Church and work with the grain of the Minster Community process. We want to foster a culture and DNA where we become a disciple-making community that develops and sends leaders, serves a network, strengthens other churches, plants new communities, and works toward kingdom transformation in the city/county. Again, this is about a simple focus on core DNA.

 

The conversations in church last summer/autumn were very positive. Recently, we have refreshed this vision in church. All this has created energy, focus, and ownership. Alongside these conversations, naturally and organically, we have been on a leadership transition, with Scott more and more becoming the leader of St John’s and me adopting a wider role of strategic oversight as we seek to foster/build a network while remaining legal incumbent of St John’s. Sami has also taken up the Diocesan role of Resourcing Church Transition lead and completed his DMin studies into oversight leadership (he graduates this coming Saturday!). This is a leadership transition that is still happening and not yet complete. However, we believe it has happened to the point where it is right for Bishop Saju to come and affirm this.

 

So, what Bishop Saju will do on 2 June is affirm the ongoing leadership journey we are on and commission Scott, Sami, and St John’s into our developing roles and calls. To summarise, he will commission:

 

  • Scott as “The Leader of St John’s”

  • Sami in “overseeing St John’s church and its work to reach the unreached in our city, start new worshiping communities, serve other churches to strengthen and renew their mission and ministry, foster relationships with other churches and the Diocese of Leicester, work toward kingdom transformation in our city, and as Resourcing Church Transition Lead.” 

  • St John’s Church into the next step on our journey as a Resourcing Church, witnessing to the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed, in care and service, and in building, growing, and enriching this Christian community, and in our work to start new worshiping communities, serve other churches, and working toward kingdom transformation in our city.

 

We will combine our services that day, so we will have just one service at 10am. I will lead the service, and Bishop Saju will lead the commissioning part, preach, and lead communion.

 

This is a significant and innovative moment for us. It is one that we believe will release the leadership capacity to drive the work we believe God is calling us as a church to do. It is a transition also that is in step with the gifting and calling of Sami and Scott. It is innovative as it effectively means that St John’s as a Resourcing Church will be led by somebody who is not ordained. Increasingly churches will be led by people who are not ordained, with ordained clergy operating in oversight over several churches. However, clearly, there is much still to work out and many questions to resolve; this is an ongoing journey of transition that we have been on for some time and that will continue beyond 2 June. An important aspect of the ongoing journey is to finalise the team that will lead with Scott. It is our conviction that the biblical model for leadership is pluralistic and team-based. So, while Scott may be recognised as lead, we aim to have a team around him of people with diverse and complementary strengths who will ultimately be collectively commissioned into leadership.

 

We do recognize that this is a significant moment of change for St John’s that some might find difficult or even painful. People have related to me as the leader and now will need to relate to Scott. We want to be sensitive to the anxiety or uncertainty that this might cause. Please do tell us if you have questions or concerns about this process. Change has been part of our story and will continue to be; good change is always part of the story of the people of God. To clarify, Sami will remain as legal incumbent, so he is not going away and is still available; it's just his role will change.

 

Meanwhile, it is vital that we keep praying about all that God is calling us to do. One of the best ways to do this is to join our monthly prayer gatherings. We are becoming increasingly convinced that these are crucial times for discerning the leading of the Spirit and interceding for our church, wider community, and city. The next is at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, 12 June, in church—do come if you can.

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