The Leeds version of Celebrate 5 took place on Saturday at Leeds Minster when around 150 local C of E church leaders came to be inspired about building a culture of growth in every church.
The celebration was led by Canon Robin Gamble (left), Bishop’s Adviser on Church Growth, and the Revd Sharon Kaye (right).
Robin said, “We want a diocese where growth is the normality, rather just an attitude of ‘how long can we keep going’.”
He asked the leaders to commit to focussing on one aspect of church growth – numerical, missional (reaching out to the community) or spiritual growth.
In his sermon, the Bishop of Richmond, the Rt Revd Paul Slater (who oversees the Leeds Episcopal Area) outlined three of the criteria crucial to church growth:
i) “Don’t hide your light under a bushel. We mustn’t be afraid to be visible in our communities. Our strap line, ‘Loving, Living, Learning’ is about being unashamedly, unselfconsciously visible in our communities.
ii) “For numbers to increase we need to be single minded and intentional about growth - to ask about everything we do, “will this help us to grow?”. Because, as the Diocese of Liverpool’s strap line has it, ‘Bigger Church, Bigger Impact’.
“There’s a good chance you will grow if you have these things: attractive worship that’s accessible to those unfamiliar with the church, a culture of inviting people to events, a starter group, a good welcome – and everything underpinned with prayer.
iii) “Growth is God’s business. We do the hard work, but then we leave it to God, not being anxious about it, but trusting in him”.
There were also personal stories from churches developing new congregations, and everyone was asked to blow up a balloon as a symbol of their commitment to growth.
The Minster event was preceded by workshops around the city: Relational Discipleship, Engaging with Schools, Engaging with the World of Work, Engaging with people on the margins, How to be a Dementia Friendly Church and Engaging with the Community.