Introduction for newcomers

Vision4 Life - What's all the noise about?URC Logo
‘How can we become a vibrant and sustainable Christian community within the next ten years?’ That’s the question Catch the Vision posed for us all back in 2003, and this year we can all start answering it. We’ve moved on from simplifying our church structures to something nearer the heart of things for many of us – how to breathe new life into local congregations.
So what is the introductory year, until December 2008, about?
Four colourful booklets of taster material were published in February and sent out widely through the denomination. These are designed to help local churches find ways of talking together about some of the things we know should be central to our church life, but which we don’t always do as well or as often as we should. One booklet looks at the Bible, one at prayer and another at evangelism – or the way we tell our faith stories. The fourth booklet includes ideas for how to get your congregation to the point of deciding to ‘sign up’ for Vision4Life, as well as some ideas for a service once you have done so.
From responses received it seems many churches have been waiting for something like this to help them in addressing what their congregation is doing now and where God wants it to be in the future. Not only that, when we Christians do similar things at the same time as one another there is an opportunity for God to bless our shared experiences in a way that cannot happen when we do our thinking individually and at different times.
The next stage of Vision4Life starts with Advent 2008 with a year focusing on the Bible. A menu of materials will be sent to every congregation this autumn and fuller versions of what is on offer will be available in print and on the website as the year unfolds. Some congregations will probably want to get more involved than others and as with the introductory material the resources will be designed in ways that make them adaptable to local needs. It is up to each congregation to think through how to feed some of these ideas into the various networks and age groups they have among them.
From Advent 2009 there will be a year focused on prayer, and in Advent 2010 a year centred around evangelism begins. The hope is that by December 2010, building on what we have already done, we should feel more confident to address the sharing of our faith stories which is one of the activities we seem to find most difficulty with.
If this is something your church is already doing and you feel you don't need Vision4Life, then the encouragement is to still GET INVOLVED AND SIGN UP! It may be you already have your own materials you are using and that is just fine. This is not a programme but a process designed to help the church focus on these three crucial areas of our faith. So study what the bible means to you sometime during 2008/9, use you own materials, interact with other churches on the website and get stuck in. Encourage others who will find the V4L materials important to helping them move forward. But do join in.
  • Advent 2008 – Year One, focussed on the Bible, begins…
  • Year Two materials with support events for planners available from September '09
  • Advent 2009 – Year Two, with an added focus on Prayer, begins
  • Year Three materials with support events for planners available from September '10
  • Advent 2010 – Year Three, adding a focus on telling faith stories for evangelism, begins