The society has gone through the process of ‘Clearing Our Vision’, initially under the leadership of David Millen from Ecumenical Ministries and with a ‘Vision Team’ of about 8 members of the congregation and Philip Agnew the minister.
At the first meeting David explained that COV was a tool to find a way from where you are now to where you believe God wants you to be. The question was: Where could we be in 5 years time with the resources God has given us? How do we get there? Very exciting!
‘May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13 David thought nothing brings hope more than vision. When people are losing hope, what an opportunity to bring the hope of the Lord Jesus!
Six weekly sessions were held starting in February 2009 with 80-100 members of the congregation taking part each time. From these sessions a mission statement was agreed –
‘We live to glorify God and through the power of His Holy Spirit, develop followers of Jesus for service in our community and beyond.’
The ‘T-shirt version’ is ‘Loving God and Serving Others’ and the 4 Values are:
- God Centred
- Developing Followers of Jesus
- Everyone Involved and Serving
- Serving God and Others
New Home Groups have also been in operation since last September providing an opportunity to praise God, share fellowship, discuss the Bible, pray, eat and drink together. While Philip has been preaching on the Ten Commandments the Home Groups have been talking about how these still apply in our modern society. It is hoped to expand these groups in the coming session. A ‘Freedom in Christ’ course has also been running on Sunday evenings and has proved an excellent way to equip Christians to grow in faith and freedom.
One of our Home Group leaders, Gwen Patterson, has taken up God’s call to go and use her skills as a physiotherapist as part of a medical team going to the Amazon region. We have supported her with fund-raising and prayer and look forward to the message she brings back to us.
A Fun and Fellowship Team has been very busy in the last few years organising a fashion show, comedy and music events and a play about Belfast during the Blitz. A proportion of the money raised at all events goes to mission projects. Tea dances started in September and have been a roaring success! Dancing classes are now running too and the crack is ‘mighty’ I’m told. A recent meeting of Team Leaders discussed how this dancing has proved to be a powerful way to attract people to our church community and is something that pastoral visitors have been able to suggest to people who have been bereaved or who have felt lonely or depressed. God works in many ways and not always in ways we plan. Those of us who have to work on Tuesday afternoons feel very deprived!
A Parent and Toddler group was started 2 years ago and now has about 50 parents and their children attending weekly during term time. Again this has been a great way of bringing young families into our church community and of demonstrating the love of God to others.
The Pastoral Action Team is working hard at assisting the minister with this important aspect of church work. Pastoral visitors have been recruited and trained and others deliver our magazine, visit the sick and elderly and new people who have come to church. This Team also organises the ‘meeting and greeting’ teams on Sunday.
A Family Support Group is also being run by one of our members with the aim of supporting families where there are problems of addiction to alcohol and/or drugs and also those affected by suicide. All issues are treated confidentially.
A Communications Action Team has been working for nearly 2 years on improving communication within the church and visibility of the church in the community. This lack of visibility was one of the important things revealed by the Community Survey we undertook before Clearing Our Vision. Photographs and names of Church Council members are now displayed in the church foyer and an introductory leaflet to CMC has been produced. There are plans to use a leaflet as a way of calling at doors in our local area in August to encourage increased attendance at our many organisations and our church services. We are also using our large illuminated notice board outside the church to communicate with passers-by and drivers about church events and challenging them with Bible verses and eye-catching posters and art work. We also send articles and photographs to our local papers too and last spring achieved a half page spread of photographs and captions about a fund-raising event for our Youth Mission trip to Romania.
On the agenda for Year 3 implementation is a Youth and Children Action Team. As a church we feel we are served by really good leadership and quality in our youth and children’s organisations. Around 300 children and young people come through our doors on a weekly basis. By the nature of such work leaders are always under pressure and could do with more help. In August our Youth Leader, Julie Nelis, leaves us after 4 years and we are in the process of appointing a pastoral and family worker.
Mission was one of the great emphases of ‘Loving God and Serving Others’. Despite that it is proving the hardest area to get off the ground in a structured way; the Mission Action Team is yet to function. CMC has and continues to engage in mission in all that it does to engage with the wider community at home and abroad. But there is so much more to be done in evangelism, witness, meeting needs and serving the wider community. The work of other Teams has meant greater contact with the community and interestingly exciting opportunities are being presented to CMC to engage in mission and work with other churches. God is in the driving seat!