We are a new creation; Christ's ambassadors! This affirmation comes from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, which provided the theme for the 65th Synod: "Made New in Christ."
But how do we work out this newness in Christ and this call to be ambassadors, especially in a ‘post-Christendom’ context, when most people in our communities seem to have no interest in church?
In his Synod presentation, the Ven. Richard King, Archdeacon for Mission and Discipleship, described Jesus' approach to training up His first ambassadors, the disciples. King pointed out that in Luke chapters 7-10, the disciples first observed Jesus engaging with people, then Jesus brought the disciples into ministry with Him and nurtured them, and then He sent them out where they encountered the power of God and 'learned on the job!' The result was growth as more disciples went out to join the work. Engage, Nurture, Encounter, Grow!
King then went through Ephesians 4:11-16 where Paul tells the early church that they will be built up through 'works of service' (more learning on the job!) as they exercise spiritual gifts given by Christ himself: those of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher.
In order to help us to follow the pattern laid out by Jesus and practiced in the early church, the diocese is developing a framework, simply called “ID” (as we are working out our identity in Christ). This framework includes events to draw members of a church family together and help them get to know each other and themselves better. It includes resources, such as testing and discussion with a mentor, to explore our spiritual gifting. Finally, opportunities will be found or created for participants to test out their gifts, reflect on what they've learned and share that with others.
King described a ‘prototyping’ process for the ID framework. Each congregation that takes part will help to ‘road-test’ it to see how it works and how it might be further developed.
A number of congregations are currently ready to try the prototype ID framework, with their initial feedback expected by Pentecost next year.