Following the latest Bishop's in Mission which took place in Newcastle Diocese, we asked Bishop Geoff Pearson for his reflections and the lessons we can learn.
Probably our abiding image of Newcastle's Pathways to Mission event was Bishop Geoff acting as Ice Cream seller for an Ice Cream Sunday.
Based at a church with no bells the local vicar improvised by hiring the van and driving around the estate inviting people to worship. As an added incentive free ice creams were given out when the van reached the church. This innovative approach worked with families coming to get both a sundae and some Sunday worship.
Ice Cream Sunday was one of the many events that a team, led by Bishop Paul got involved in, Following Archbishop Sentamu's Commissioning Service on Holy Island, the Liverpool Team camped out in Newcastle West Deanery - a deanery with a high number of parishes in vacancy.
That didn't stop the activities, Bishop Paul was grilled in a local school, Mal Rogers was set to work in a FoodBank while Rachel Gaunt made the most of an invitation to the local zoo.
Bishop Geoff enjoyed stotties (barm cakes!) at a Mr and Mrs Evening which allowed testimony by a lay member of the team. This struck a chord with people eager to ask for a copy of Mark's Gospel at the end of the evening. Meanwhile, Bishop Paul was at a "Bishops and Bubbles" event (and we don't mean shampoo).
It sounds like great fun with plenty of opportunities to reach out. It gives us many pointers for our Mission in 2019. And as Bishop Geoff says "Do nothing and nothing happens, do something and something happens (but not always as planned).
Bishop Geoff's ten learning points
1) Do nothing and nothing happens, do something and something happens (but not always as planned.
2) Churches tended to get out what they put in.
3) Churches in vacancy found it harder to engage with the mission.
4) Bishops need to involve more lay people. The sooner the better for booking time off work (next March!).
5) The value of personal testimony.
6) Support, a listening ear and prayerful challenge valuable for some disgruntled clergy.
7) Often we were encouraging the faithful rather than witnessing on the edge.
8) Keep encouraging a culture of invitation.
9) Good communication with churches and teams is vital.
10) We saw God at work in surprising and life-giving ways.