I am very much looking forward to our next Assembly when we will be picking up the very live issue of loneliness as our theme. I want to build on the work of our November Assembly in particular when I suggested that if we wanted to grow in discipleship, if we wanted to “unfreeze” the church, we needed to take our faith out of the church and into the city and try and make a difference there. The idea for the evening is to explore how we can make a real difference in our communities, using some of the approaches we have been developing through our Leading for a Change programme. We will listen to one another, tapping our own experience of loneliness and use that as raw material to explore what might be done. We will reflect on what Christian faith might have to say and how that might shape and inspire our action. We will get ourselves informed about the issue and pray together. We will generate ideas and see if we can start to produce some practical goals.
Of course, that means trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot on the night, so we will need to be focussed. And it would be really helpful if you can do some thinking and praying beforehand: what does your church/organisation do at the moment which tackles loneliness? what is the welcome like in your church? can you identify who are most affected by loneliness who could be supported? who has some power to do something that you could partner with? what training would you need to make a difference?
Equally, start to think what stories and ideas our faith has to offer which might have a bearing on what we do: see if you can discern a faith based answer to the question, why bother with loneliness? (Some suggestions: look at some of the people Jesus meets in the gospels; are there implications from our understanding of Creation or Trinity? what does it mean to be the body of Christ?)
My sense is that the Church has an enormous amount to offer to lonely people, which in reality is all of us. Can we realise that potential and make a difference? Can we be a part of the movement of the Spirit by which Milton Keynes will become MK: a City Alive to God?
I look forward to seeing you at Christ the Cornerstone on March 7th.
pdf version to download – Mission Partnership Newsletter March 2018