This stage is designed to help the church to reflect on their journey toward God’s calling so far. There are three key questions for the church to engage with in this stage.
As with any journey, we need to know from where we are starting before we can understand the journey. Honesty is essential in answering these questions. If people are unable to accurately assess where they are before God, it is likely to give a false view of reality, leading to poor discernment in the later stages.
The church will need to reflect together and offer realistic opinions, backed up by good evidence, with everyone having an equal voice. It is especially important to avoid:
- destructive blame or judgement on the church or any specific ministry, group or individual
- the sense that some views may be ignored, or others treated with undue importance
These are the questions that the church will engage with in this stage.
What is our history?
In general, the MAP process looks at the current situation and future calling. This question allows the church to examine what has happened leading up to the current situation; in the church, in the wider community and in the relationship between the two.
Some churches may feel that they do not need to spend a great deal of time considering this question. For example, if a great deal of work has been done on it previously, the church may wish to just spend a little time updating their understanding from the last time they addressed the question. However, for most churches, the question is extremely helpful and is sometimes vital.
There are three specific ways in which engaging with this question can bear fruit:
- To celebrate the success of what God has done in and through the church in the past, helping to encourage the church and build faith for the challenges of the future.
- To give space for the church to understand and deal with any past events, relationships or culture that may impact on its current mission and ministry, seeking repentance, restoration and reconciliation where appropriate.
- To understand the culture of the wider community that may impact on how mission is engaged with in that community. History will often have a profound effect on the attitudes and behaviours of a local community toward the church or other groups.
A good indication that the church has addressed this question is that the church have understood and accepted (and if appropriate dealt with) its own history and the history of its communities, and how they might influence one another.
To where has God brought us?
This question helps the church to reflect upon where God has already worked in and through them to establish His call and character, and where that work is yet to be done.
This is primarily done through the MAP Church Health Check tool. This tool provides the materials to help the church engage with the MAP Characteristics, prayerfully reflecting on where the church is, and isn’t, demonstrating those characteristics.
The tool uses surveys that can be used across the whole worshipping community of the church, asking people (using some specific areas of evidence) to what extent the church is already displaying each characteristic. For more information, see the MAP Church Health Check resource.
You can download the materials here:
- Church Health Check Leader's Guide
- Church Health Check Survey (Short)
- Church Health Check Survey (Full)
In addition to the Church Health Check, the church may wish to make use of existing information and data from other sources, such as financial information or statistics for mission returns. They may wish to carry out further research to build up a fuller picture.
A good indication that the church have addressed this question is that the church have fully engaged with the MAP Church Health Check with clarity, openness and honesty and have used all other reasonable means to obtain a full picture of their current character and situation.
With whom do we share our life and what do they say about us?
If the church listens only to those inside the worshipping community and structures of the church, they will only get half the story. Those outside the worshipping community may have a very different view of the church than those inside it and, although it can be painful, it is important to hear their views. God will often speak to His Church through those on the outside.
The first part of answering this question is to discover with whom the church currently shares its life, and how. The church will need to explore the connections it already has with those outside – both intentional connections and connections that exist simply because the church is there.
Engaging in conversation and building relationships is the best way to hear honest and balanced views. This might mean establishing relationships where there was previously little contact, and using imaginative ways to engage people. This information will also be used in stage 4.
A good indication that the church has addressed this question is that the church have confidence in their understanding of what a broad range of individuals and groups believe about the church and its activities.
You may find the following extra resources helpful during this stage:
- Prayer and Worship Resources
Some ideas and models to help keep prayer and worship at the centre of the MAP for Derby Diocese process.
- Discerning the Angel of the Church
A creative, imaginative way of helping people describe the character of the church.
- Discerning the Angel of the Community
A creative, imaginitive way of engaging with the community and discovering what they think about their own community and the church.
- Community Audit Ideas
Plenty of ideas about how to engage with the community and understand more about the people and organisations within it.
- Community Listening Exercise
A resource to help you listen to the church's community.
- History Audit
How to discover more of the histories of the church and the community, and the wisdom we can discern from their patterns.
- Seeking Evidence for Church Health
A resource for those looking for measures and indicators to help them assess the health of the church.
- Stakeholder Interviews
How to discover and talk to the key people within your community.
For further help or information on any aspect of using MAP for Derby Diocese, please contact:
Rev. Jason Kennedy, Diocesan Missioner
Derby Church House