"We want to be a body of believers whose focus is the needs of others and whose goal is to win the lost for Christ.   Yet we also want every member to be reaching out with the gospel as individuals so that God may accomplish His work in this place."

This statement, close to the end of our 2010-2015 Congregational Mission Plan, serves as an accurate summary of our more recent thinking in respect of the aim of our congregation for the foreseeable future. In saying this, we believe that we are doing considerably more than merely restating an aim of five or six years ago, since we perceive our thinking and focus to have clarified towards the above statement, with elements of the 2010-2015 Plan now left behind. This process of clarification has been driven largely by focusing on two fundamental and related questions:

  • What is the purpose of a fellowship of God’s people in a given location?

  • What ought, in the purposes of God, to distinguish Downshire Church from the many other churches in the area?

We believe that we have been led to view our fellowship as chiefly  a missional community, whose aim is to serve and reach those who have yet to come to faith and to be part of God’s ongoing work of renewing and recreating his world.

This means that our emphasis must be outward and towards the local community.  (We appreciate that this is a radically different way of viewing church and discipleship from that in which many of us were raised.  It will, then, take time and prayer, as well as repeated   restatement of this different way of viewing church and viewing our role in God’s world, for this new and more Biblical perspective to  become a way of life.)

How might we encourage and facilitate the outward, incarnational, approach?

  • by raising the awareness of members to their current, God-given ‘frontlines’ and the opportunities they present
  • by encouraging members intentionally to reach out in friendship to those who are not yet believers and to participate in ways of blessing the local community
  • by creating opportunities for ‘frontline’ stories to be told and prayer for them to be offered, in the setting of Home Groups and Sunday services   
  • by accepting a gentle accountability to and encouragement of one-another on our ‘frontlines’ – this to be initially modelled in Session and Home Groups as a means of finding its way into general congregational life
  • by ensuring that our welcome is warm and our services of worship are both accessible to newcomers and inspire believers to live Christianly   
  • by finding many ways of explaining to members (and reminding them) that church is not a “members’ club”, where personal preferences and felt needs determine the content of services 
  • by assessing the alignment of organisations and church activities to the above emphasis, encouraging a more intentional orientation where necessary and resisting the formation of any new organisation or activity that does not support an outward-facing emphasis  

How will we know when the outward, incarnational emphasis is being increasingly embraced?

  • when ‘frontline’  stories are told frequently, informally  and naturally   
  • when the content of services is widely assessed by its  relevance to newcomers rather than its appeal to existing, long-term members
  • when the value of organisations and activities is reckoned by their focus and impact on the local community  
  • when more time is intentionally spent on the ‘frontline’ than in the company of fellow-believers   
  • when more prayer requests are generated by ‘frontline’ contacts than by internal relationships within the  congregation

"Live wisely among those who are not believers,

and make the most of every opportunity."

Colossians 4:5


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