Great quote by Jeremy Begbie, 'Every church is profoundly biblical – that is, marred by hypocrisy and heresy, frictions and factions.'
So it comes as no surprise that despite all the rhetoric about becoming healthy churches, most of us could do with some some help. And it's because of this that Anne Wilkinson-Hayes, a British Baptist, serving as a Regional Minister in Baptist Union of Victoria, Australia, created Fit4Life. It consists of a number of units looking at the issues of:
• Church health and self awareness
• Healthy communication
• Handling differences in healthy ways
• Healthy decision making
• Clarifying roles and expectations
• Covenanting for health
and it draws upon the work of the London Mennonite Centre's Bridge Builders material.
We've just finished a series of five events, introducing the resource, giving some pointers as to how to use it, but also doing a session on 'healthy communication'. It's been good fun and people have been very responsive. It confirmed what I thought already, that this is an excellent resource: it's accessible, realistic, practical, and can make a difference.
Consistently, what generated a lot of feeling was addressing the skill of 'Using ''I'' rather than ''We'', or ''People''', as in 'People are saying that the services are going on too long.' Stories abounded of deacons meetings and church meetings hijacked by individuals speaking on behalf of an anonymous collective. Probably I added to the fuel to the fire by describing this as a 'pernicious tendency'!
In terms of taking things further, there was a considerable desire to do some work on conflict resolution which is an encouraging outcome.
The material is available on CD Rom from the Anabaptist Network for £10. But if you're interested, I can do you a deal ... !