(from Teulu Asaph, October 2015)
The most wide ranging 2020 vision project yet is being planned by the diocese for early 2016. The international renowned speaker, evangelist, spiritual director, Mark Yaconelli, who made such an impact at the Power of Prayer conferences earlier this year, is to return for a six month residency in the diocese.
Mark, who is based in Oregon in the United States, will arrive in mid-February with his wife, Jill and daughter Grace, to live and work across the entire Diocese of St Asaph. The logistics of his visit are still being worked out and a detailed programme of events, activities, work-shops, and training seminars put together but the key themes for his residency are in place:
- Mission area cohesion and development
- Spiritual formation and leadership
Mark will act as a catalyst to train and inspire our newly forming mission areas, existing communities, churches and congregations. Using his considerable skills as a writer, retreat leader, spiritual director, community activist, youth worker and story-teller, a cohesive and lasting legacy of work will be created that will go above and beyond what we have already been able to achieve so far. The residency will equip us in furthering our desire and vision of bringing the good news of Christ to the centre of our communities and churches here in the Diocese of St Asaph.
By the end of six months with us, we will have a legacy to build upon; this residency isn’t about Mark coming and then leaving us. He will be equipping us with tools, resources and trained leaders to take forward our outreach and mission.
Young People, Evangelism and Discipleship in Mission Areas
Statistically, only a very small percentage of young people living within our communities are involved with any form of discipleship or church community. Whilst a great deal is being done to address this, nothing has yet been developed on a strategic level to help mission areas engage with young people, particularly in the areas of outreach and discipleship.
To deal with this, Mark will act as trainer, writer and facilitator to work with a group of adults and young people to train leaders and facilitators. His work on this theme will focus on two key areas:
- How do mission areas engage with young people who currently have no contact with any church or mission area in relevant and creative ways?
- How do we help young people already involved in the diocesan family and those who will commit in the future to grow in faith within their mission area?
From this work, a detailed and creative bespoke resource for the diocese will be produced to help mission areas work together to develop both outreach and discipline with young people; every mission area will have trained junior leaders, youth ambassadors and youth ministry advisors; and a series of conferences will take place to further train and inspire. The main legacy will be more leaders equipped for mission area youth work and more young people encountering and committing to Christ.
Building cohesion within the newly formed and forming mission areas and their communities
Using the hearth model, Mark will work initially with mission area churches and then move outwards with towns/churches/priests/volunteers to help develop a public community storytelling series that will help churches reach out to the larger community.
This aspect of the residency will work with separate mission areas and the churches within it first, to bring together those within the mission area to galvanise fellowship and a sense of belonging and kindle an ethos and excitement for serving and journeying together. A taste of this sort of storytelling took place earlier in the year in Bala with some quite remarkable stories coming out. (See the last edition of Teulu Asaph for an account).
Mark will train mission area leaders in this work, mentoring them and giving them the skills to take this outreach work forward. From this, deeper connections with communities will develop, new understandings of mission and engagement will be fostered, ongoing community events will be run by local congregations encouraged and trained to do so and new, creative ways of being church will emerge.
Spiritual formation and leadership programme
This element of Mark’s time will focus on training and teaching church leaders in contemplative exercise, discernment, compassion and narrative practice for both individual and church growth. Mark will run a three month intensive course for 10-12 interested priests/church leaders, modelled on the successful church programmes he’s run previously. Leaders would be expected to, drawing from their own specific skills, watch, learn from and replicate these programmes within their church/community contexts.
This training programme will deepen the knowledge of the call of Christ upon both the individual and the church community, develop and deliver specific programmes for churches and build a culture of spiritual formation and leadership with mission areas.
What happens next?
Over the next few months, a detailed calendar of events and activities will be drawn up for Mark’s time in the diocese. We want him to arrive in mid-February with a full programme of activities to enable him to “hit the ground running” and ensure we maximise our time with him.
More details about this exciting project and how you can get involved will be released shortly. In the meantime, please consider how you, your church, mission area and community can be involved.