(Tear Fund asked me to write a few thoughts on what their Discovery Course meant to my Church... thought you might like a read...)
Our Church had a moment of providence when we started asking how we could be Jesus on the doorstep. As a Presbyterian Church we were obliged to write our mission strategy and our Presbytery, as part of this process, suggested we do the Tear Fund Discovery Course. For us in Fitzroy, Discovery, was like a gear stick and accelerator that is already propelling our mission forward at quite a speed.
One of the keys for us was that we took a small group that included elders, staff and congregation. It therefore almost became a two day Retreat where we got the opportunity to focus on how to do local mission, guided by those who had already done it and then theologised it and made it practical. We did then also benefit as we watched other people audit their congregations and what was particularly healthy was someone from another Church in our area bringing another helpful perspective. The course is broken into different stages from celebrating what you already are, to how to gather information about the real needs of your neighbourhood, to how to dream dreams and then implement the dreams. It was interactive, fun, Biblical and incredibly practical. On coming home we have continued to meet regularly and unpack the course in practical ways. We are already planning a celebratory month in September to remember and thank God for who we are and are dreaming how we can tell the neighbourhood who we and more importantly the Jesus was follow is.
I would highly recommend Discovery for all Churches. If you are missionally inactive it will give you the key to get started; if you are like us ticking over with intention and a little action but want to up the ante it will help you go through the gears; if you are full on in the local community it might be a chance to stand back, reassess and improve what you are already doing. I would also recommend, though it might not always be possible, to do it as a group that continues the implementation afterwards. I went along half enthused. When it was over I had more enthusiasm, vision and pragmatic help than our entire neighbourhood could contain.