Diocese of ChichesterDiocese of Chichester

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From Circumference to Centre

A Prayer Study Course

Putting Our Churches Back into the Centre of Our Communities

This four part study course to encourages people to begin thinking about,  and developing, the possibilities which their buildings and people hold for mission in their local community.

The Purpose of the Course

Many of our churches have inherited a substantial plant, which may include churches, church halls, schools and clergy housing.  Often these buildings are a drain on our energy and resources, and after worship, they become the focus of the efforts made by church councils and congregations.

This course aims at helping people to look again at our buildings, and the possibilities which they may hold for reaching out into our communities. To see them as places which we can share, and where we can begin to meet people, and where we can teach people about the basics of our faith.

It should help us to move away from the idea of simply conserving an historical monument, towards seeing our buildings as vibrant and living centres for our communities.

In moving towards shared buildings, it will also help us to consider how we encounter and work with people, rather than simply becoming landlords or looking to make a profit from them.

Undoubtedly this will mean looking again at how we view the people who live and work around us:

  • What do we really know about our communities?
  • Which parts of our communities do we reach, and which remain distanced from us?
  • How do we begin to engage and work with the people with whom we have not yet had a relationship?
Such encounter is sometimes straightforward, and simply a matter of having missed an obvious opportunity.  Other times, it can be costly in terms of thinking about the people we like and understand, and those we dislike or have little in common with, and how we overcome such obstacles in our mission activities.

Session One: Using Assets Wisely

This session is aimed at getting people to see that they have assets which they are called to manage which include buildings and people. It should help people to see that this is a positive opportunity for Mission and Outreach, rather than a burden, or an end in itself.

Session Two: Planning

This session is aimed at getting people to see that they have to understand their communities, and that they have to plan to use their assets to work with those communities.

They should realise that this involves personal encounter, and that we are not simply landlords.

Session Three: Sacred Space

This session is aimed at challenging people to consider what the think of as sacred and why.

Whilst there is no unanimity in terms of an answer, you should be looking to challenge mind sets which are not based on theological thinking.

When looking into your own planning for the management of your assets, then you should be willing to take into account the opinions which are expressed.

Session Four: Mission and Buildings

This session is aimed at asking people how much they know about the communities in which their church is set, and how they engage with that community.

In terms of our assists it should promote questions concerning our engagement and wish to promote the Gospel, rather that a wish to be landlords or to make money.