Moving On: JSP’s 1st National Conference at The Briery in Ilkley
We didn’t sing On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at (even though for some it was their first visit to Ilkley) and there wasn’t much time for wandering about on the Moor. But we had a very special time together that added much to JSP foundations for ensuring healthy future growth. The Briery was a fantastic location. We were well loved and prayed for, and we had a fine group of 23 people from eight dioceses—including two non-Anglicans who more than held their own!
At the end of it all, in our final session, someone noted, and all agreed, it had been ‘more of a community than a conference’, a real experience of being a ‘Jesus Shaped People’ together.
We began by listening to stories that highlighted the ‘culture change’ that we had experienced through the adoption of JSP. It was quite a tale. Here’s just a taste of what we noted:
- JSP can ‘sow in concrete’: it cracks the concrete to reach the soil—melts hardened attitudes and eases the acceptance of new structures and initiatives, especially in churches that serve urban estate communities.
- JSP can ‘clear the ground’: small groups providing opportunity for healing that can enable culture change.
- JSP provides resources that give permission for lay people to engage more comprehensively, actively and significantly in mission and ministry; including churches that serve disadvantaged communities.
- JSP can ‘turn the lights on’ in people, enabling people to see what ‘follow me’ can actually mean for their own local church—sometimes for the first time.
- JSP offers encouragement and resources that connect children and young people into the centre of a church’s life and work, especially in involving them in the setting and delivery of mission priorities.
- JSP enables churches to have a simple and corporate common vision, and stimulates growth of new local creativity of expression and resource development.
- JSP is counter-cultural in its challenge to the church, in the practical missional activities it offers, in its priority for working with the poorest communities, and in its inclusion of the least and the lowliest.
- JSP provides a new refreshing language for re-energising discipleship. For some people it leads them to a rewriting of their understanding of Christian faith and discipleship.
- JSP can produce a change in heart in people and congregations where ‘softening’ is needed due to historic rigidity of practice and tradition to produce opportunity for fresh creativity in a way that is unthreatening.
- JSP can deepen relationships in churches, that can result in people becoming more confident in their faith and discipleship. People will often find that they become bolder in their witness and testimony.
- JSP can help churches see their local community with new insight. It can connect a church with its local community through dialogue and common concern, particularly with regard to the needs of children & young people.
- JSP stimulates greater integration in church between adults and children.
- JSP is a ‘subversive Kingdom initiative’: it demands culture change in churches—and in The Church. It can be a slow burn to get into the DNA of a local church, but it does bring about long term cultural change.
- JSP is an Adventure: its strap line ‘A Whole Church Discipleship Adventure’ is an ideal one, as it enables the resurrection life of Jesus to become more vibrantly present in his community.
We did a JSP SWOT analysis, and spotted lots of stuff to celebrate, and plenty of stuff to watch out for—and then used all this to identify our future direction of travel. The title of the conference was ‘Moving On’, and we were particularly concerned to be preparing for the healthy growth of JSP across the UK. A meeting of delegates with Trustees on the Wednesday evening helped us to sharpen our pencils in this area.
It was heartening to recognise and give thanks for the energy and spiritual vitality we all brought to the event, and that has fired our boilers for Moving On. The Trustees will be meeting in June to capture what all this will mean for JSP’s future development. We’ll keep you posted.