My time in the Meon Valley comes to an end on the 12th of November and that has left me feeling reflective.
Looking back over the last five years has been interesting. The things that have worked best are the ones that played to my strengths, unsurprisingly, and some things didn’t work so well and some didn’t work at all.
I was fortunate in that it gave me a great opportunity to discover and confirm my strengths. I always felt that for mission and evangelism to work they needed to be relational. The stronger the relationship the more likely that there would be successful fruit. I’ll come back to that later.
The other thing I discovered was how precarious my mental health could be. I was fortunate to have found a couple of people who understood what I was going through and we supported each other.
The Methodist circuit in the Meon Valley has been blessed with some wonderful people with a passion for their community and for contributing to it. Each of the chapels has an identity of its own and strengths that it works to. All are humble enough that when you point it out to them you are met with surprise that what they do is worth mentioning. Looking around the chapels this is what I see;
Hambledon has established itself in a role as an apostolic centre. While it may be the smallest of the chapels on the circuit, it has found a role in equipping and supporting other Christians to share the Gospel. From it’s teaching programmes with Roger French to its uplifting prayer and praise nights Hambledon manages to make a difference in the lives of large numbers of Christians from the surrounding area.
Bishops Waltham is another small chapel, this time with an incredible focus on their local community. For Faith Al Fresco to the Bishops Waltham Christmas shopping night, if there’s something happening in the community they are always there as part of it.
Shirrell Heath is another chapel focused on support for their community. From knit and natter to tea and tech and their always impressive holiday club, they live a life of service. A warm and welcoming community.
Waltham Chase are adventurous as a congregation. They’re always willing to try something new. Waltham Chase have a real focus on youth with an incredible youth worker in Jordan Cousins. They also run Alpha courses with a real heart looking to ensure those who want to have a place to go to continue growing in God after the course is over. The Repair Cafe takes place at Chase with support from across the circuit and is a wonderful example of soft evangelism.
Swanmore has a very warm and inviting community and is always willing to support its members in kingdom work. It’s not afraid to try something new and is always willing to reassess what it is doing to see if it could be better. Swanmore was part of the driving force behind the Repair Cafe that takes place at Chase and has been instrumental in raising its profile.
As I said before each chapel is a warm-hearted community that welcomes newcomers with open arms. They are all focused on their community and when they work together are a force to be recognised.
I am aware that many of the chapels feel that they need new blood and are praying for new families and new people to join their congregations, and this was on my mind as I was praying for a scripture to end this with. I’ve been reading the minor prophets recently and have been particularly drawn to Haggai. As I prayed, I felt God was pointing to Haggai chapter 1 as important for the future of the circuit. I urge you to read it and pray about it as I believe it has a message that is important for the circuit.
So thank you to all for making me so welcome and I hope some of you have seem some benefit from my time among you.