These are the questions that the church will engage with in this stage.
What steps should we take?
Answering this question will require the church to detail the actions that will be required to meet God’s call for them (as discerned in the previous stage). What type of actions, and how many of them there are, will depend on the changes God is calling the church to make.
There is a temptation for the church to limit their thinking to doing new things – adding in new programmes or events, starting new initiatives. This often adds further burden and pressure on the church (and usually on those who are already overstretched, especially the church leader). Whilst this stage might mean starting something new, it might equally entail:
- Stopping something
It may be that an activity or programme that the church is currently involved in is hampering the church from responding to God’s call.
- Changing something
Perhaps, in taking what is already happening and changing the way it is done to reflect the church’s revealed character and purpose, the church can better respond to God’s call.
- Learning something
Most often, the changes God calls His Church to make are heart changes (about who we are) rather than technical changes (what we do). This is harder, but nonetheless important. Such changes are not wrought through programmes, but through prayer, reflection, discussion, learning and repentance as God’s church.
A good indication that the church has addressed this question is that the church have a specific plan for change that will enable them to make the changes that God is calling them to, according to the previous stage.
With whom will we share the journey?
The MAP process will offer the church many opportunities to share the journey with others. To do so opens the possibility of building creative relationships in which the Good News of Jesus can be shared and the mission of God can be advanced. Such partnerships can enrich both the church and those with whom the church partners. This might mean establishing connections where there previously were none, or deepening existing connections.
The answers to the question, ‘with whom do we share our life and what do they say about us?’ in stage 2 can form the base from which to begin answering this question.
Sharing the journey might mean different things, depending on the people with whom the church is seeking connection and why. It might be information sharing, or something much more substantial.
A good indication that the church has addressed this question is that the church are developing new and existing connections with others.
From whom will we need help?
Often, one of the hardest things for a person to do is to admit they need help. The same is true of churches. Although the church’s source of help, wisdom and power will always be God, that may well come through others who can offer their support, help and advice. Sometimes churches will not embark on the work that God is calling them to because they are not sure they have the resources to complete it. Yet, the work may well be possible with the help and support of others. Commonly, churches will need help in the following areas:
- Prayer, support and encouragement
Partnering with those who will support and pray for the church.
- The experience of others
Partnering with those who have already completed the work the church is planning. It can be helpful to see what worked and what didn’t, but care must be exercised in transferring models from another place without contextualisation.
- Teaching, preaching, training and facilitation
Seeking help for the church to learn something effectively, or having someone from outside to facilitate, which offers a ‘critical friend’ and free them to focus on content, rather than process.
Seeking help with funding; this usually means making best uses of the assets and resources the church already has, or applying for grant funding from elsewhere.
- People and resources
Obtaining required skills or other resources to complete a piece of work.
The Parish Support Office will often be able to help the church to find any of these types of help, either directly or by pointing toward others who can provide it.
A good indication that the church has addressed this question is that the church are clear and confident that they have in place all the help they need to make the changes God is calling them to, with His help.