mission shaped church
Peter Price favours the term `SCC' small Christian community and urges
that these must hold together three different strands to hear the authentic
voice of God. It involves listening to the daily reality of local life, to the
shared life of the small Christian community, and reflection upon both in
the light of the Bible. The `New Way of Being Church' group has evolved
a pastoral cycle of five stages: experience, analysis, reflection, action and
celebration. Peter Price calls for the widespread birthing of SCCs, a creative
interaction between them and the wider parish, and the dynamic use of the
BECs are widely respected: for the real empowering of people, truly
collaborative ministry, practical reflective theological method and use
of story. Despite tensions they seek to hold together agendas for radical
change with commitment to historic order. At best they know their role
is to assist renewal of the church as institution, but it is illusion to
imagine they can replace it. Their commitment to radical justice and
the priority of the local has led to some nervous central reactions.
BECs have provided an intimate answer to the impersonality of modern
existence; a place of faith where everyone can be sure he is accepted
and known by name; a group of manageable size, where the pastoral
needs of twelve people can be met without stress or ministerial
burnout; where a Christian can be fully Church and fully used; where
a determined group of twelve working with the Holy Spirit can make
a difference in the locality, and in the world at large.
Yet in the UK, outside Roman Catholic practice, SCCs are not that well
known. This report had difficulty finding Anglican examples.
Born out of many years' experience of urban working class
ministry, John Summers' conviction grew that there was
something missing in the way the good news was being
proclaimed among the people of Devonport. The church
seemed to be making little progress in terms of offering the
gospel, yet Jesus was immediate `good news' to those he
met: the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the `nobodies'.
What was missing?
John Summers' perspective was transformed by a four day
workshop in 1994, led by Fr Jose Marins from Brazil.
Following further workshops at the College of the Ascension
in Birmingham, he took his `learning by doing' back to the
churches in Plymouth. There, neighbourhood groups were