Feedback 1 on May 21st Mission Planning

17 Jul 2022 by Rev Andrew Smith in: Letters, Thoughts, News

Feedback 1 on May 21st Mission Planning – Testing Common Theme Clusters and Biblical Narratives

From Rev Andrew Smith
Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures

Across this year our Presbytery is engaged in mission planning. Each of the four Presbytery gatherings in 2022 are dedicated in a large part to developing a Presbytery Mission Plan. We are about halfway through the process, with significant work having been done across the March and May gatherings of Presbytery. Here is some of the feedback from the work done at the May gathering.

The first half of the mission planning morning for the Presbytery in May included feedback to the Presbytery about what we had heard at the March session regarding themes arising from the stories of God at work across the Presbytery and from Biblical narratives that people had named as resonating with those stories.

The following four clusters of common themes and four Biblical narratives were presented:

  • Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch – Acts 8:26-40
  • Jesus feeding the 5000 – John 6:1-15
  • Parable of the mustard seed/bush – Matthew 13:31-32
  • Isaiah 58, especially verses 6-12.

It was important for Presbytery to be given the opportunity to reflect further on how important these themes and Bible readings are for the mission planning of the Presbytery. With this in mind, breakout groups at the May session were given the task: “As you think of the four clusters of themes, which of the above biblical narratives resonate with you?”

Three of the six breakout groups described all four readings as needed to represent the broadness of God’s mission, with no one story more focal than another. All four embody the mission of the UCA. All four talk about calling us outward in surprising new ways. The other three breakout groups showed particular resonance with Feeding the 5000. In addition, two groups also resonated with Philip and the Eunuch; two with the mustard seed; and one with Isaiah 58.

It is important to note that the groups were not asked to rank or comment on the clusters of themes, rather the task given to them was: “As you think of the four clusters of themes, which of the above biblical narratives resonate with you?”. Nonetheless it may be instructive to note when clustered themes were affirmed in the discussions of the breakout groups.

Five groups noted particularly “God is calling/present”; four groups noted particularly “We are called out”; three noted “new and surprising”; and two noted “growing and sharing faith”. All of the groups noted either “God is calling/present” or “We are called out”, three noted both.

In summary:

  • All four Biblical narratives were affirmed as resonating with the clustered themes, with Feeding the 5000 being the most highly ranked individual narrative, followed in order by Philip and the Eunuch; mustard seed; and Isaiah 58.
  • The most strongly affirmed clusters of themes are “God is calling/present” and “We are called out”, followed in order by “new and surprising” and “growing and sharing faith”.