From the outset I think that we all have to start from where we are – the communities that we cherish are all very different, with different strengths and different visions. We are different sizes and at different stages. Some have full-time ministers, one or two may have other paid people e.g. lay leaders, some have a part-time minister, some have support from a district worker and some are wholly run by community members. Some communities are vibrant and eagerly look for development, some appear less energised and perhaps less keen to develop different ways of being.
Whatever you experience in your local community there are some decisions that you have to make if you are committed to working with others to develop your faith community. If this were a workplace you may have away-days with a paid consultant to find out how people think and feel and work on discovering a way to move forward. This can happen for local faith communities but it is more often over a cuppa after a service during conversations that we get a feeling for how people are thinking and feeling. It is a much less formal approach, more subtle and takes longer.
Sometimes communities are up for significant change and sometimes you get the feeling that the time for change may be a year or two off. So what do you do then? You build relationships – you have the vision in your mind about how you think things should be and seek out others who think like you – you gauge how others feel and you find ways to build up the internal relationships within your community.
I also think that if you can you ensure that people who come along to services or walks or craft groups take some responsibility for something – be it bringing the biscuits, washing up or leading a service. People are more committed to something if they have invested and continue to invest their personal time and effort into it.
But most importantly you need to focus on what you do well. Don’t linger on what doesn’t work unless if you don’t tackle it you will be in trouble. Focus on what you do well and do more of that – it is easier and you are more likely to experience success.