Welcome to the New Year 2008 On-Line Edition of
Waterlooville's Parish Magazine
St George's News

How do our Buildings help our mission & ministry?

Kairos Buildings

Do our church buildings help or hinder our mission and ministry to our communities?

That’s the question we’ll be asking ourselves in the next cycle of our diocese’s Kairos process.

This time, it will involve looking at the theology behind church buildings, auditing what we have, and then deciding whether to open new churches and church halls, revamp the ones we have and whether any should close.

But the key behind our ‘Kairos: Buildings’ process is how our buildings affect our own discipleship and mission. Tackling this issue will bring our understanding of what it really means to be a Christian into sharp focus.

Among the questions we’ll be asking are:

- What part do our church buildings play in our ministry?
- Does constant fundraising for our buildings exhaust our time and energy?
- Are our churches sacred spaces that are valued by our communities or irrelevant and dilapidated?
- Are there new solutions to the ownership and funding of our churches and church halls that would release time and money for mission?

The Kairos initiative was initially launched by the bishop in February 2004 to address five issues: our ageing congregations, the national shortage of clergy, financial challenges, the cost of maintaining our buildings, and the lack of relevance of Christianity to many non-churchgoers.

Our eight deaneries developed five-year Kairos plans to help meet those challenges, which were presented and blessed in our cathedral in July 2005. Some of those plans included ambitious projects to revamp buildings. Many sought to provide new models of mission and ministry, and many projects are still ongoing.

In a progress report to our Bishop’s Council, our Diocesan Kairos Group (DKG) concluded that the initial Kairos process had been both incredibly successful and yet fell short of the targets we had set ourselves.

The successes included better collaboration between parishes and an impressive array of projects that aimed to meet genuine community needs. Kairos appeared to be “embedded in the diocesan psyche”.
But at the same time, it had failed to impact significantly on the five issues that were initially identified. That’s why our diocese’s Bishop’s Council agreed that the next cycle of Kairos should specifically focus on one of those five challenges.

The Ven Trevor Reader, chairman of the DKG, said: “It’s important that people realise that the first cycle of Kairos was vital. By going through that process, we are now much better equipped to tackle things we couldn’t have done beforehand. Now we have fostered new relationships and considered different models, we’re in a much better position to take some bigger risks.

“And tackling the buildings issue is a sure-fire way to tune in to what is really important in our Christian faith. Buildings are both a blessing and a pain, and we’ll explore every aspect of that in our next Kairos cycle.

“One of the lessons we’ve learnt is that it can be counter-productive to push parishes and deaneries through a very tight time-scale. So the chances are that we’ll ask deaneries to decide exactly when is the right time for them to go through the next cycle of Kairos.”

Deaneries are likely to be asked to go through the Kairos Buildings cycle from 2008 onwards. It will involve the following phases:

1. EXPERIENCE: an exploration of the problems connected with our buildings
(a) THEOLOGY – some work in small groups in which worshippers think about what our church buildings are for, and how sacred space should be used;
(b) RESEARCH – some research will be done in each deanery – with support from the central diocesan structures – as to what our church buildings are currently used for, what other church buildings exist locally, and about the demand for each of them.
3. REFLECTION/RESPONSE – deaneries will be invited to make a response to the bishop at a special Eucharistic service he will lead in each deanery.
4. ACTION – the deanery plans for our buildings will be implemented.

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page last updated 24 January 2008