Resources to refresh your church
By Paul Titus
Rev Andre le Roux is out to refresh the Methodist Church.
He says lay leaders and presbyters in many congregations are struggling to find the inspiration and energy to carry out their mission at a time when society no longer values church attendance. To help them find fresh reserves of enthusiasm and provide new ideas Andre is preparing a series of resources for parish and worship leaders.
"At present we are working on two main things. One is leadership resources for leaders’ meetings. The other is ‘10 Minutes on a Tuesday’, and it consists of suggestions and ideas for worship," Andre says.
"Traditional expressions of worship are becoming increasingly irrelevant to most New Zealanders and the vast majority of young people find church boring and completely alien to their needs and world view.
"In many places we have aging churches with a ‘small church’ mentality. Some parishes struggle to maintain current attendance levels, others find it impossible to support presbyteral ministry due to a lack of money. If we are to ensure that we still have a church in 20 years time we must find a way to bring down our average age."
He believes a part of the solution is the creation of small groups that could fulfill a mission task or meet to grow faith, express ministry, or give pastoral care. This will affect how churches express themselves in worship, mission and leadership.
"Helping people think differently about church will require inspiration, motivation and practical ‘we-can-do-that’ resources that take the local church’s context into consideration. Empowering presbyters and parishes to work through these challenges will breathe new life into our church."
Many presbyters are stretched just trying to keep the church alive. The thought of finding more time and energy to research and implement new styles of ministry may be more daunting than helpful.
‘10 Minutes on a Tuesday’ is Andre’s effort to fill that void. They are bulletins sent out in a weekly email and posted on the Methodist Church website – www.methodist.org.nz – under the ‘Ministry’ tab or at http://refresh.methodist.org.nz.
They offer up themes, readings, preaching points, prayers, hymns, visual aids, and suggestions for PowerPoint presentations to get worship leaders’ energy flowing. Andre says they are intended to spark creativity.
"The first series provides themes for the whole of Lent. There is something for each Sunday so it provides a holistic approach and sense that we are travelling together."
For example, the ‘10 Minutes’ bulletin for Palm Sunday reminds worship leaders that the day is our last opportunity to celebrate before we face the cross. It suggests ways to use palm fronds to celebrate the good things of life. This could be done by weaving crosses or bracelets from palm fronds. It provides some reflection about the place of celebration in the Church, and lists some prayers, songs and hymns that focus on celebration.
Andre says the material in his ‘10 Minute’ bulletins come from a number of sources. Some of it he dreams up himself, others come from combing through Internet resources.
Similarly his leadership resources provide local church leaders devotional thoughts and practical skills they can use to lead parish leaders’ meetings. They provide means for leaders to advance their personal discipleship as well as activities or conversation points that can be used as part of church meetings. A major focus will be on skill development.
"They are based on the questions God asks us. The first is based on the question God asked Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit and realised they were naked – Where are you?" Andre says
"It went out to the parishes in January so leaders could discuss where they were and where they would go with the year."
Andre says feedback from the first instalments of the’10 Minute’ bulletins and monthly leadership resources have been extremely positive.
He has lots of ideas for other types of resources, such as DVDs, and innovative fresh expressions of ministry he would like to develop. However, Andre’s own energy levels are limited these days.
He has been diagnosed with a type of cancer for which, at this stage, there is no treatment. He has had radiation and a type of chemotherapy but to little effect. However, he remains hopeful that a way forward will still be found.
For more visit http://refresh.methodist.org.nz.