In the coming months, the Spanish-born Rector of Holy Trinity with St Matthew’s Church, in south London, Father Hugo Adán, will write about the daily challenges of a bilingual parish. In this first instalment, he reflects on the challenges of creating a Mission Action Plan.
This blog is also available in Spanish
Este blog también está disponible en español
Being a pioneer is a very exciting experience. Basically, pioneering happens when you or your community have a vision; then a wider group of people think the vision is great and they decide they want to make it real. Little by little that vision grows and grows until it becomes a project and informs the life of the people around the project.
Changed lives, hope and tons of good will are part of the very good things that you can witness as a pioneer. But not everything is easy. The fact that you are opening new ways means that there are very few references you can use as inspiration. Pioneering has a solitary component and we don’t talk about it very often.
Basically, you and your team are alone: you have to try, make mistakes, assume a lot of costs, and learn. It is the only way. After the honeymoon period of being the first bilingual parish of the Church of England, now we are in this phase of assuming risks at St Matthew’s.
We have being trying to envision a Mission Action Plan (MAP) for the whole parish, something we can share together whether we are Latinos, Nigerians or British. But it is difficult. There are issues around power and control; we fear the differences and we always prefer to stay in our zone of comfort.
As a Rector of the Parish I have to say I am not surprised. I have seen this before. We are all like this, no matter how much we believe in the Gospel and how fond we are of our vision: we all like to stay in our zone of comfort. There’s nothing wrong with this if we are able to recognise it and we are willing to ask God for guidance.
At St Matthew’s we are running a Bible course on Mark’s Gospel via WhatsApp which is very popular. One of the main characteristics of this Gospel is how much it underlines the difficulties of the disciples in understanding Jesus. They were very comfortable in what they thought they knew about God, that Jesus’ message was a shock to them.
Through this biblical study the whole congregation is now acknowledging the problem: we don’t allow God to be God. We don’t trust in Him enough to give him control over the parish and the project. We prefer to keep doing what we have doing for the past 30 years, even though it almost took to the parish to extinction.
This is the problem and we have identified it, now it is time to change.