On Friday, I had the opportunity to hear this year's President of Methodist Conference, Stephen Poxon as he spoke to a group of us from the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District.
Stephen brought to us ten points for discussion. These are observations from his travels around Methodism since July and were meant to provoke discussion, which they did. I list them here with the caution that I did not have the impression that these are meant to be 'hard and fast recommendations' but rather conversation starters.
1) Listening to different voices. Listening to voices outside the Church, listening to voices from different geographical areas. Listening to God.
2) Rediscovering the grace of a God who gives unconditionally. Let there be no 'side' to our giving - e.g. no expectation of conversion.
3) Time to renew our confidence in God's workings.
4) Celebrating that we are the world church in Britain. E.g. there are more 'ethnic minority' congregations in the London District than 'white British' congregations. This will have implications for theology and practice.
5) Time for the Church to engage with wider society.
6) Learn what it means to be a Christian in a multifaith culture. Neither apologetic for our Christianity nor aggressively proselytising of people of other faiths. 'Name the Name'
7) Learn a different way to be Ecumenical. 'Ecumenism' no longer means 'joining together in one Church'.
8) What are we doing about discipleship in our churches? Do we ask enough of our members by way of discipleship?
9) Leadership of churches, not management of churches. Sometimes 'leadership' requires a willingness to step into the chaos and take risks.
10) Call to a life of holiness - especially from the 'missing generations'. Stephen noted that pursuing a life of holiness is a 'Methodist distinctive'.