A bigger conversation
BY ANTHONY CASTLE
Over 100 Salvo leaders attended the recent Missional Conversations workshop event in Subiaco. Organised by Dianne Jarvey, the Faith Communities Development Secretary for Western Australia Division, the initiative works alongside the division and supports what local leaders want to see happen in their spaces.
“The Church is in a bit of a murky space right now, after COVID and with declining attendance,” Dianne explains. “We looked at what is happening and asked, ‘How are we leading in this liminal space?’ We know that mission doesn’t just happen – we have to be intentional about it. The idea is to have that missional conversation booked into the divisional calendar and open it up to leaders on the ground.”
Invitations to Missional Conversations were extended to every officer and their leadership team in a missional space to have a bigger conversation around mission in Western Australia.
Commissioner Miriam Gluyas spoke during workshop spaces, reflecting on what it means to lead when you don’t know where you’re going. Over 100 people were in attendance at The Third Place, a Salvos centre in Subiaco, with invitations to grow in future.
“We can’t have it there again because it isn’t big enough now,” laughs Dianne. “The goal of the workshop space was to open up practical conversations about mission, rather than just sit for a lecture. I thought we’d have 40 people show up, but we had over 100!”
Research reveals that while church attendance has dropped somewhat since COVID, interest in spirituality and a search for meaning has increased during these uncertain times. There can be a wariness of religion but a general openness to the benefit that faith and missional community can offer.
“We hear a lot about the decline of the Church. You look at the statistics, though, what they say about falling participation in churches but also about people’s interest in spirituality, and you can focus on the opportunity. It’s about what people need, and how do we do that in a different context than just at 10am on a Sunday morning.”
Attendees were invited to visualise what they wanted their future to be and to draw a picture. Each attendee and team would offer a different picture of a missional future, a starting point for conversation, and a different takeaway from the event.
“We know the Church is changing, and we acknowledge that there are other models we can move to, we want to be somewhere new,” Dianne says. “Sometimes we do things because that’s the way we’ve always done them. It is time to do a new thing, to challenge and acknowledge the pain and grief of that. We’re in this liminal space, but God still works through us, and the choices we make now determine where we end up.”
The Faith Communities Development Team will coordinate continual workshop events with the Western Australia Division, meeting next year in June and October, opening it up to more and more interested in that bigger conversation.
“The aim is to build momentum. We’re asking, ‘Who else can we get here, how can we broaden this conversation? Who are the latest voices? What are local missional voices grappling with?’ Each event will have a different approach, specific missional conversations for different spaces but will have the same intention and the same conversation. We need to be talking about mission all the time.”