Martyn asked the question whether the Methodist Church is currently 'fit for purpose' and he believes that we are. One of our main purposes is the purpose for which the Methodist Church was born: mission and evangelism.
During his Presidential year, Martyn asked Methodists all over the country what they think characterises the Methodist Church. They answered:
* Inclusive and inviting
* Connected and committed
* Engaged and involved
* Often with the marginalized
Martyn asked the question: 'Do any of these things suggest a group of people who cannot cope with today's culture?' He thinks that all of the above values are ones that are in tune with society today.
But one of the things that Martyn wants to change is Methodism's 'narrative'. We've been telling ourselves for the last 30 years that we are a dying denomination and Martyn would like this to stop and he would like to change our narrative to a more visionary one. However, he also believes that we will need some radical change.
For me, there was one interesting point that came out in our question-and-answer session. Martyn asked the question 'Why do I meet in my travels many people ministering in movements like New Frontiers, in 'fresh expressions of church' and even in the Baptist Union who came to faith in the Methodist Church but who didn't want to remain in Methodism?'
His answer was an interesting one: that most of our services are 'lead from the front' but that, generally speaking, people under 40 don't have a sense of belonging unless they are active participants in worship. He reckons that movements like New Frontiers, etc., are structured so as to use the talents of the people who join. Martyn also observed that many people over 50 will normally expect to be passive participants in church and that many of them will not want to participate in worship, unlike the under 40s.
He reckons that we can't try to force people who want non-participative worship into a participative model and that we need to have a 'multiplex' mode of operation if we are going to attract young people. He suggested that the circuit system could be used to accommodate different communities with divergent narratives. Lots of food for thought and a thoroughly exciting ministerial synod!
Edited on 14 November: I feel that I may not have communicated very well about 'participative worship'. I don't think Martyn meant 'OK, everyone, now at this point in the service, we are all going to....'. I got the impression that he meant that, as new people join the church, they offer their own gifts for the use of the church and that these are gladly taken up and used. Rather than, 'Well, we really don't need someone who plays the diggery-do' we say 'Thank you for offering to play the diggery-do to the glory of God, let's find a way to use it in our service.'