Reflections on New Wine 2014 – 4


Isaiah 42:9

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Community for the Community 2 – Planning

Mark Melluish 2

Mark Melluish is one of the overall leaders of New Wine and also a West London vicar.

Isaiah 42:9
See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you. 

YESTERDAY I posted about Mark Melluish’s New Wine week 2 seminar In the Community for the Community, looking at points he made about priorities and answering the question “What are we here for?” Today I’m covering some great suggestions he made about planning: how to plan with a focus on connecting with people beyond the church. Tomorrow we’ll look at pointers to good practice.


1. Quick decision making
Living for mission calls for a light touch. Mark says that it’s no good having a lengthy and bureaucratic decision-making process where opportunities are lost before agreement can be reached. Far better, he says, to have a strategy that everyone understands, with flexibility and a willingness to be adaptable around it – so there is a ‘can do’ presumption.

2. Value online relationships as being real relationships
Mark said: “When we analysed the downloads that were logged against our website, we were amazed at the influence we were having beyond our walls. That was just one channel.” He said that increasingly, people are communicating and relating on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc and – this is the real challenge – these relationships are real relationships to them. In his opinion, churches that are not online and engaged beyond the basic essential of a good website won’t ‘get there’ with today’s people.

3. A high value on experimentation
This is about being free to try things, and free to stop them when they need stopping. There can be an expectation that something we started must continue – a kind of sacred cow. Stopping a calendar event that has served its time is always likely to upset someone, but there is a danger in trying to prevent this. Most people want the church to grow, and leaders to lead. Mark gave a ‘try something’ example in the context of rather poor regular giving. As an experiment, a gift day was instituted. It raised £72,000.

4. Plan for the next as part of the plan for now.
St Paul’s Ealing seek to daisychain ‘connection’ events by linking each to the next one. This creates a journey into faith which is happening the whole time. He told a story about good momentum from a starter event that was all themed around chocolate – and led naturally to other things.

5. Plan for the year, not for the event
Mark advocates planning the year and not just individual events; he says that it takes more work but the result is much more effective. Most people, in his experience, have too much email to deal with but are happy to give out their mobile telephone numbers, which makes text messaging an inexpensive but good way to communicate reminders.

There was a question about how the daisy chain principle and flexibility, apparent opposites, worked together. Mark had two answers to this: first, allow multiple things to happen. Secondly he said that, in line with their values, the possibility of gospel opportunity trumps everything – something members had learned to recognise.


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