• Nigel Chapman

July - Gardener's World or Garden Rescue?

Going for Growth

Gardeners’ World is perhaps an institution, if not a National Treasure. It has a rhythm that inspires people to get out there and do their gardens. It even has a list of jobs each week. You could say this programme is about good maintenance as well as beautiful.

By contrast, Garden Rescue has Charlie Dimmock and the Rich Brothers compete to design a new garden for a homeowner to suit certain needs, space and budget and the owner then

chooses which one they like. Rather than being about maintaining what is already there, this programme is on a mission to rescue a garden, the maintenance of which comeslater. After groundwork and hard landscaping is done they import an almost ready made garden with mature plants, turf and sometimes trees that are well matured. This is not slow growth of using tiny saplings or seeds but it’s almost instant and we see the vision unfold to become a reality.

What if we took this idea and applied it to our churches in some way? What are we doing that is like Gardeners’ World and therefore about ‘Maintenance’, and what is like Garden Rescue and therefore about ‘Mission’.

The parable of the Mustard Seed. Mark 4

30 Again he said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’

The Kingdom of God is not static. It grows. There is an inner invisible spiritual growth perhaps associated with personal spiritual maintenance and development. There is an outer growth too, perhaps we could see this as missional growth. In this respect we become co-creators or co-workers with God, building the Kingdom here on earth, by ‘adding to our number those who are being saved’. Indeed as we become co-workers with God, that in itself helps in the maintenance and development of our spiritual life.

The two gardening programmes are very different and no doubt you have your preference, but the point is that both serve to create beautiful gardens and both kinds of gardening are often

needed. Indeed Monty Don will now and again completely re-develop an area of his garden with something completely new.

If however, as a church we prioritise only maintenance over mission then things will get out of kilter. Yes we do need to do maintenance, but if that is our major priority then that is just

looking after ourselves at the expense of reaching out to others.

As we begin to come out of lockdown we have no blue print or even knowledge yet of what we should prioritise. We all have our anxieties and fears and have been affected by so much

uncertainty. We have pressed the ‘pause button’ to give us time to think, pray and discuss. In fact the pause button is the wrong analogy really, because when you press it again you restart where you left off, and do we want that? A better analogy would be to press the re-set button!

What I do believe however, is that the weight of who we are should be about being a Mission Church. To be outward looking with a priority of working together for growth. Indeed if we are a Mission Church then maintenance should happen naturally, the bills will get paid, the people looked after and our past valued, (but not canonised as the golden years). Take a look at these

7 P’s of Maintenance and Mission below.

7 P’s of Maintenance Church:

  • Paying the bills.

  • Preserving the building.

  • Playing the annual round.

  • Protecting the past.

  • Pleasing the insider.

  • Prioritising the present.

  • Pretending it’s [decline] not happening.

7 P’s of the Mission Church

  • Praying for growth.

  • Prioritising the outsider.

  • Promoting the faith.

  • Preparing our people to welcome.

  • Putting money into evangelism.

  • Prioritising fresh ways of doing.

  • Publicising everything well.

Liberating the future: Parish Away Day.

We have an opportunity to press the reset button of our priorities. To this end the PCC has booked a parish away day at Wydale Hall on October 16th from 10am – 4pm. It will be a day for prayer, study of God’s word, discussion and some relaxation too. Please put this in your diary and make it a priority to come. I have invited Bishop Graham and Revd. Jackie Cray to come and facilitate our day, to help us to re-invigorate and reshape our Post-Covid church so that we can define our purpose and vision for the coming years. The day is FREE (although contributions are

invited). No one should not go however, because of cost. The day will include refreshments and lunch. A booking form will be available soon.

Over the last year we have not stood still. I am amazed and heartened by the developments we have seen and are beginning to see. Maintenance has to be done. However, let’s not make it a necessary evil but an opportunity to serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ by building a family friendly church, being outward facing, energised by our faith, seeking God’s will, face the cost of change and making room for all.

With every Blessing

Revd. Nigel

For those who don’t know, Graham was Bishop of Maidstone, he’s an author, internationally renowned speaker, been on the executive of things like Greenbelt Arts Festival and Soul Survivor, headed up the C of E ‘Fresh Expressions Team' was vicar of St Michael-le-Belfrey many years ago and is now retired and an Honorary Bishop in the diocese.

Jackie is also ordained and among many things has had a ministry with CPAS and Scripture Union and together they have had an amazing Healing ministry. More recently Graham and Jackie campaigned against fracking in Kirkby Misperton.

Please download the Parish Link for July 2021

Parish Link JULY 2021
Download PDF • 793KB

Please download the Contemplation for July 2021

Contemplation for July 2021
Download PDF • 67KB

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