We don’t believe in ordinary

    From the Bishops
    24 May 2016
    Bishop Lee

    Bishop Lee

    Creating Connections – with God, with each other, and with our communities. What a great vision for us as a diocese. But how can we get better at this?

    A few weeks ago I was on an interview panel in London. As part of the process, candidates had an hour to prepare a presentation on changes in society affecting religious beliefs. One of the candidates grabbed our attention immediately by connecting this with something which had caught his attention on the way to the interview. He had passed an innovative marketing agency called ‘Sunday’ with an eye-catching mural entitled “What does Sunday mean to you?”

    Around this question were over two dozen panels with colourful graphics and potential answers to the question: a morning on the allotment; running around the house in my PJs playing games with my son; a lazy lie in; baking; football and Yoga, in no particular order; a blast along a country lane in my MG; a Sunday barbecue; brunch; the afternoons are the ‘long dark teatime of the soul’ and I like tea; cricket; spotting snails and lobbing them into the neighbour’s garden; exploring London on my bike; relaxing in a hammock; a big bubble bath; long pub lunches with board games; Skyping family back in Oz and breakfast in the garden; a walk along a deserted beach on a crisp winter’s day; a delicious roast.

    This proved a wonderfully creative springboard for exploring the social and societal landscape which churches inhabit and where faith engages or fails to. It was also noticeable that Yoga featured but church did not and that soccer and pubs were mentioned twice. I have since been wondering how much we might learn from Sunday about creating connections.

    Sunday mural

    I do not know whether what appeared on the mural was the result of observation, research, experience or imagined aspirations and longings.

    Probably a mix of each. The collection felt designed to lift, amuse, and provoke thought across a wide cross section of people and temperaments – not least around what the marketing agency itself was about. If your church or PCC were asked to create a mural of “What Sunday means to me” to lift, amuse or provoke thought on a noticeboard outside the church, what might you want to put on it?

    Thinking about the hopes and dreams of the people in your parishes, and the things that would give them fresh heart and energy for life’s challenges and opportunities, what might you say and point to?

    On Sunday’s website it was easy to find their clarity of purpose. In an uncomplicated, vibrant yet brief video, Sunday outlined their context and their strategy: Time is precious – People are selective with what they do with their time – Telling the right stories, at the right time, in the right channel, is what we do. This may be, again, somewhat selective in that many have time on their hands. However, Sunday has named reality for a majority of people.

    What would be the right story, right time, right avenue or channel, for your church to engage with people whose lives have little extra space? Sunday seeks to simply, intelligently and creatively present ‘brand stories that grab attention, fire the imagination, and build relationships’. The Church is rich in such stories so how can we present them in ways which do the same?

    What struck me most was the creative energy around Sunday. “We don’t believe in ordinary” is their strapline. To follow Jesus is to be part of a cause and movement which sees the ordinary transformed by the power of God’s creative and re-creative presence. In this season of Pentecost may God fire our imagination and paint fresh and vibrant images on the canvas of our lives illustrating what Sunday means to us.