In our recent training day for curates we were encouraged by Colin Ashurst to consider the value of CCFs – ‘constructive coaching friends’. Each Mission Community as it is set up is encouraged to work with a CCF who might walk with them, ask them the right questions, encourage them to flourish. A friend from outside who can come to ‘visit’ once in a while and bring a fresh perspective. In fact our curates were challenged to think about whether they might consider themselves to be called to this role – of meeting with MC leaders (and teams) regularly (maybe 4 times a year) to listen, notice and share the challenge.
I like the idea of there being friends for Mission Communities, and am reminded about how many models of friendship we are given in the bible – the friendship between Ruth and Naomi, between David and Jonathan, between Mary and Elizabeth, between Paul and Barnabus. These stories are filled with examples of courage, steadfastness, delight in one another, encouragement, companionship, trust. Some of us have been blessed with such friendships in our lives and know how precious they are. What vision to imagine such friendships for our fledgling Mission Communities!
Colin offered us two key questions we might bring to that friendship (and which anyone involved in the MC development process might want to ask):
How can a church be more effective for the Kingdom because it is part of a MC?
How might the MC do things that the individual churches can’t?
Of course we don’t know the answers, but we need to keep asking the questions so that we can in Bishop Robert’s words, be ‘bonkers for Jesus’. (We watched a video which Bishop Robert had made for CCFs and which I commend to you: http://www.godforall.org.uk/constructive-coach-friend)
Earlier in the summer I had attended a two-day training for CCFs as we considered how we might better understand this role and coach churches into agency so that we are genuinely engaged in Mission and genuinely being Community. The photo above gives some indication of the nature of our exploration into the role.
One of the ways of doing this was through the medium of story. We are good at story-telling; as humans and as Christians. As we build up relationships across our parishes, ecumenically, in our Mission Communities we need to keep on sharing our stories: of God-with-us; of God-in-this-place; of lament and of hope. In the words of Anderson and Foley (Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals: Weaving Together the Human and Divine, 2002):
The stories we tell, whether human or divine, mythic or parabolic, order experience, construct meaning, and build community.
If you are interested in finding out more about the role of CCFs, please contact my colleague Jane Maycock.