Following Jesus with people not normally interested in Church

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Janet Sutton in the community As the United Reformed Church's first official Pioneer Minister, the Revd Janet Sutton Webb has launched a website to share her learning. She is also entering her tenth and final year in the post and reflects on the experience.

I have been living and working in a small rural market town in Devon with people who would not normally be interested in going to church, and to find out what following Jesus might look like if undertaken alongside them. My job title, Emerging Church Pioneer, is a strange one, and so is the job. 

One of the greatest gifts, but also greatest challenges, has been to stand intentionally on the edge of our church institution and try to see it through the eyes of an outsider.  It has been both illuminating and, at times, painful. I have found myself questioning many of the customs, doctrines and practices that we, as a denomination, hold dear. 

Most British people don't go to church, and many haven't even heard the story of Jesus. I'm passionate in my belief that the Church must face this reality head on and find new ways to share our amazing faith in a way which challenges, empowers and gives shape and meaning to life.

To explore some of these issues more fully I have started a website called Faith Inspiring Action. Each week I publish a blog, often accompanied by a more in-depth article on a theme.

Some of those covered so far have been:

It is now 35 years since, as a chorister, I first sang Isaac Watts' amazing words:

‘Were the whole realm of nature mine,
‘That were an offering far too small;
'‘love so amazing, so divine
'demands my soul, my life, my all.’

Those words changed my life. The result was a call to ministry in the URC which has not faltered, and, 15 years after my ordination, that call remains the same.

As I move into my final year of this post, I am constantly asked: ‘What next?’ The current answer is: ‘Who knows?’

Although I may not know what my next role will be, I am sure of one thing; that it’s going to be an adventure!

Picture: The Revd Janet Sutton, centre, holding her daughter Kirsty at a community campaign event to save children's play areas.

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