GOOD MEETING WITH OUR GAP coordinator (Tricia Munn) this morning after an equally good (enthralling, actually) Café Church earlier.
GAP? – well you wouldn’t be the first to wonder: GAP’s for Growth Action Planning - one of many processes at work within the parishes of our Diocese of Chester. And all the jokes about “mind the gap” and “where’s the gap” (and who, and what, and when, and why, and how!) are somehow miraculously absorbed into that process. For mind we must. And sometimes about gaps.
Who, what, where, when, why and how? These are important elements in the growth of any work one can think of. And they’re elements that have to be communicated in ways that can be as widely received as possible in order that the requisite resources, materials, personnel and tools might be brought together into the right place at the right time. (I’m thinking, for example, about what might be needed by a portrait painter, or a sculptor, or a teacher, and where the necessary resources come from, and how, and by whom, they’re all made and marshalled in the first place). Growth Action Planning is, for us, a good mind mapping exercise because our business engages with “the mind of God”, and with “the mind of the Church”, and with “the mind of God’s people – humanity” and each and all of these need somehow to be carefully and faith-fully synthesised.
Virtually all the negative news going into or out of church life can and should be turned into something positive. That’s what we mean by redemption and – I dare to imagine – what God might mean by regeneration (baptism) or re-creation (potter, clay …)
I love the clock face above the entrance door of Christ Church Claughton-cum-Grange which is decorated with the words “Redeeming the Time”. That’s what Jesus’ whole life was / is – a bridge between an “old order having passed away” and a “new kingdom already upon us” – a world order that seeks to promote whatever it takes, whatever the context, for God’s entire Creation to live in, to experience, “the peace of God that passeth all understanding”.
Seeking clarity in our planning and in our communications is a wholly good idea. And it’s often in the pursuit of the detail that we discover that there’s a whole lot going on, much of it that we hadn’t taken account of before, and almost all of it having had its roots nurtured long (really long!) years before our arrival. And therein lies encouragement, and a sense of being caught up in a vision bigger than ourselves.
Let the mind of Christ dwell in your richly. Colossians 3.16
The GAP programme seeks to enunciate those elements of the mind (or the Word) of Christ that are separately and corporately to be discovered in the hearts, souls, minds and bodies of humanity in its entirety. These elements incorporate questions as well as answers, discipling (learning) as well as teaching, discovering as well as celebrating what is, or has been. For there’s neither teacher nor church upon the face of the earth that has nothing yet to learn. And the feast is free: alimentos gratis!
Growth Action Planning can leave us all a bit out of breath sometimes, but that’s how it should be. We’re reminded by it that adamah, the dust from which we are formed, is entirely reliant upon God for the ruach, the breath of life itself. And we can lean on that fact. For just as it is with my Dad, so it is with God: both remind me “I’ve been here before you”.
My friend Fr Roger Clarke will smile if he reads my umpteenth quotation of one of his favourite poets, and mine; (which, incidentally and to our delight, Bishop Robert Atwell quoted at Roger’s Induction at Ringway!) from R S Thomas’ Pilgrimages
He is such a fast God, always before us and leaving as we arrive.
GAP has to be about energising the pursuit, then – and some mind-mapping!