Summer Spirit: Growing in discipleship

Craig Mitchell’s workshop at Summer Spirit in February was both inspirational and entertaining. Craig is the national director of Formation, Education and Discipleship for the Uniting Church  in Australia.

His two sessions looked at congregations as learning communities and mission-shaped discipleship. Effective ministry leadership was about building relationships both within the congregation  and in the larger community. Examples of how to do this were shown in video clips from a Formation, Education and Discipleship (FED) study: Creative thinking was necessary even when it  challenged people’s comfort zones. I liked the example given of a minister who shook up his Church Council meeting by hiring a bus and taking them all to dinner in a city restaurant. They had a  bird’s eye view of the casino carpark and the minister challenged them to think about how to get the church carpark just as full.

Resourcing congregations was vital and this included training people in leadership, teaching people to articulate their faith and paying attention to how to nourish members of the congregation. One important way was through the culture of hospitality. This was echoed in a wonderful presentation by Rev Emma Matthews, chalain at Penrhos College, in the afternoon workshops about  talking with young children about faith. The key ingredients – fun, food and friendship. This year’s Summer Spirit emphasised the importance of relationships and dialogue with the  community. Like many, the question I took away with me is: what does mission mean for my congregation, or for the Perth Theological Hall, where I work?

Outreach can occur in so many different ways and can be simple as well. A permaculture community garden may be beyond many congregations but coffee mornings or op-shops may be possible.

This year’s Summer Spirit was attended by more than 100 people, and was held on Saturday 21 February at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church.


Check out these useful links from Craig

Kerry George

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