Thursday, October 12, 2006

Trendlewood Church

In three days time I will be unveiled at Trendlewood for the first time, to those who didn't make the licensing last Monday. By a quirk of rotas it is Communion and there is no-one else down to lead or pray so it will be rather more of me at once than I am comfortable with. It is hard to watch and learn and not change too much if the first time you turn up you are leading.

Trendlewood church was planted in 1989 (the records say in May but they also say Palm Sunday so I suspect a misprint for March) from Holy Trinity, Nailsea. It began gathering in a pub but within a year had moved to the school it now meets in because it had grown in size from 60/70 a week to 90/100. By September 1992 numbers had reached 150.

Some of this was due to fantastic ministry and some due to Nailsea growing rapidly. The population was 3,000 in 1953 and is now 18,500 give or take. A huge amount of building took place in the 70s and 80s.

It is interesting that the stability of numbers over the next few years coincided with stability of leadership - Phil Haines, a Church Army officer - was in post from April 1993 to August 1999.

Since then numbers have declined to about 60 or so. The two most recent ministers both did well but sadly one left after an inappropriate relationship and the most recent died after a few short months in post. I am told that many people who found Trendlewood church a nice environment for young families gravitated back to Holy Trinity when their children became older.

I guess this post is to tell you all where I am in terms of the next few weeks and also to ask any Trendlewood readers who have started reading this to share their expectations. I don't believe I am here primarily to meet people's expectations but to find the vision for the future of the church here, but it would be lovely to know them. Also please tell me about any errors of fact or judgement I have made here.

A vicar I know arrived at a church I know (and some of you will, but we'll leave him/her anonymous for the moment) and was asked at interview this...

'In the 60/70s our vicar was primarily an evangelist;
In the 70s/80s our vicar was primarily a teacher,
In the 80s/90s our vicar was primarily a pastor.
What are you?'

The answer, which I think was very well-crafted, was ' I believe in healthy churches. Healthy churches need all three.'

I cannot think of a better first question; how healthy is this church? Now where shall we stick the thermometer?


Rich Burley said...

A slight aside, Steve, but it seems your blog is expected to be read by at least some people in your parish(es), i.e. people you know in a professional capacity. That seems like a great idea.

I'm interested, though, whether that prospect changes what and how you blog, as opposed to a situation where friends are the only ones who know about it and read it.

Great to keep up with how you're getting on, by the way.

St said...

Hi Rich,

Believe it or not I have always exercised a modicum of restraint about what I wrote knowing that this is a public forum and anyone can accesss it.

Whilst I have erred towards vulnerable in terms of self-disclosure I have erred towards restraint in naming and shaming the terminally stupid.

Over the last three years I have faced some criticism for this when I blogged, for instance, a crisis of faith, my views on sexuality and my opinion of Purpose Driven anything. However the conversations (virtual and real)these posts led to were intersting and I'm still here.

I commend blogging in the parish and encourage a removal of the false dichotomy between personal and parish. If people know you as you really are they may share themselves similarly.

Kathryn said...

Thank, Steve....It was good to read such a positive response. Every now and then I have a crisis of confidence about blogging quite as openly as I do, - but my experience has been positive to date,- and the "only blog what you wouldn't mind your PCC reading" rule seems to be largely effective.

Caroline said...

I'd want to encourage you to carry on as well, Steve. I work at the Open University and we are currently exploring ways of using web media such as blogs and wikis as ways of helping our students learn

and, given that we're called to be disciples, organising things to help people learn, seems a good idea to me.

I suspect that for life-changing-learning (not just knowing more about), we need to be in a vulnerable place and there are few safer-vulnerable places than speaking honestly our 'half-baked thinking'. For that is where others can add texture to our thoughts and actions.

Avoid debates but encourage verbal exploration, that is what I sense you are doing in this blog for example.

Dave Neal said...

Great to have you here Steve. We're going to be making bombs in Lighthouse this sunday. If the congregation are a bit lack lustre, call for back up.
P.S. Still think 'Fresh expressions' is a Hip Hop band from the eighties.

Ruth said...

'If people know you as you really are they may share themselves similarly.' This gives considerable food for thought. I experience you very differently in the blog and face-to-face: a bit disconcerting sometimes. Do I know this guy or not?
OK, it's early days yet since I am not in your congregation and you almost always meet me 'in role' (yours and mine).
I'm not describing a problem: it's intriguing, and not always comfortable. But little that is living is entirely comfortable.
Will continue to ponder!