New Circuit Priorities and a New Circuit Model
For the last few years we have been on a journey to seek and find new ways in which we might improve and develop our model of circuit and to better understand our purpose as Methodists in Birmingham. Along the way we have consulted with all of our churches and we believe we have found a new purpose statement and a new model that will resource and empower our churches and their members.
Transforming Life - A Circuit Strategy Report
The following is taken from a report of the above title which has just been circulated to all Circuit Trustees.
How can we be ready and resourced for the future? This paper outlines a vision for our circuit, describes a new model for how we think we can best achieve the vision over the next few years and suggests answers to some of the key questions that we must face at this point about Stationing 2019-20.
A New Vision and Priorities
We believe that the following vision statement will help us to focus on what we hold most important within our circuit and represents a more accurate idea of that which we collectively hold most important.
“Birmingham Methodist Circuit aims to be a welcoming Christian family, authentic to the tradition of John Wesley, with inspiring worship, radical compassion and social justice at its heart for the transformation of life.”
This statement will be at the forefront of all we do as a circuit and will outwork itself in the five priorities below.
The Birmingham Methodist Circuit should be a place…
- Which upholds the values of Methodism including being sustainable, ethical and Connexional, both as a group of churches and with all its partners
(An Authentic Methodist family).
- Where there is worship across the circuit which is inviting to all and inspires us in our faith and the action it calls us towards (Inspiring Worship).
- Where all members, churches and circuit understand and practice a compassion which is welcoming, inclusive, safe and empowering (Radical Compassion).
- Where all our members, churches and circuit understand and are involved in prophetic action (Focussed on Social Justice).
- Where we are in the business of being transformational through our discipleship in our own lives, the lives of those around us, and so in our communities and city (Transforming Life).
We believe that a focus on these five things will allow us to best focus our resources for our mission as a circuit.
A New Strategic Model
After six and a half years as the Birmingham Circuit we have an opportunity to restructure ourselves to be ready for what the future has to hold, making ourselves more efficient and improving how we operate. It comes because we face our biggest challenge yet, a shortage of ministers and a need to develop a more sustainable financial model. We believe that we need to update our model of circuit to make best use of the resources which we have and to help mitigate for some of the challenges which we face as a big circuit.
Whilst in the areas of strategic thinking and management of resources our big circuit is proving a success and allows a huge diversity of churches to be supported in a variety of different contexts, we recognise that it does come with some limitations, namely that people feel disconnected from others in the circuit. There is also a real sense that people are tired and struggling to find time for what they are passionate about because of the practical elements of church life.
We believe the new model below allows us to have the best of both worlds. The benefits of being a big circuit AND the connectedness of being in smaller groups and teams.
The model was worked on within our circuit by both the Circuit Executive and a variety of members from our churches who were invited to be involved.
We are proposing that we group churches, staff and lay members within our circuit into ‘Ministry Teams’. These would not be based upon the former circuits but would be based upon a number of factors including:
- Location – That each group of churches and its team will require minimal travel;
- Churches with complimentary goals or projects – That churches undertaking similar work might be put together for shared working and mutual encouragement;
- Churches with different styles of Worship and Cultures – That working with churches with varying styles of worship might be a healthy challenge and might mean a developing understanding of what worship looks like;
- Demographics – That churches with different demographics might bring a richness to one another.
A first suggested plan of how these groups might be made up, based on these factors, will be discussed at the Circuit Assembly for refinement.
Each group of churches would have a Ministry Team made up of Lay Leaders , Ministers, Lay Workers, Local Preachers and Supernumeraries. Teams would be built with complimentary skill sets and volunteers be commissioned to fulfil new roles to help each group move forward with their mission and ministry.
These Ministry Teams would be focussed on mission and would not have to worry about any of the logistics of being a circuit or the administration that comes with it which continue to be taken up by the Circuit Assembly and Circuit Executive.
A Tested Model
The model is being used and works in other big circuits within the Connexion, so although we need to think carefully about the detail involved in how we put it together and to make sure we learn lessons from the journeys of those other places, we are confident it is a good way of working.
Find Out More and Ask Questions
We believe that focussing on the priorities which are most important to us and reshaping our model of circuit will give us the best chance of moving forward with positivity into the mission to which we are called. We must push towards the opportunities which we see around us alongside the careful management of the resources we have available. We think that these two things allow us to do both.
The morning session of Circuit Assembly on Saturday, 24th March will be dedicated to presenting and discussing the vision, priorities and strategic model, with the following question being posed:
‘Do you accept that this is how our circuit should be shaped for the future?”
If agreed, the Circuit Assembly will also be a time when we begin to discuss what the groups we have mentioned might look like, although there will be more discussion and refining to this process in the coming months.
Please also note that this morning session of the Circuit Assembly is open to non-Circuit Assembly representatives if others from your church would like to participate in this discussion.
Opportunities for Feedback
If you would like to ask questions or offer comments before the Circuit Assembly then there are two opportunities to do so:
- Please email the strategy team using the following email address – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or come along to the Listening Event on Wednesday, 14th March (5pm – 7pm / 7.30pm – 9pm) in the circuit office, The Church at Carrs Lane, Birmingham, B4 7SX.
Feel free to use either of these methods to ask questions or make comment.