Question Time

Question Time was introduced as an agenda item for the first time in 2018.  Here are the questions…and the answers given

QUESTION 1: Much of the conversation in the Church in Wales is about its steady decline. However, we know that a number of churches are growing, and some rapidly. What assessment has there been of what differentiates growing churches? How is the diocese making sure we promote not “what we think will lead to growth” or “what we hope will lead to growth” but what actually leads to growth?” (Revd Josh Maynard)

I would like to define growth as a reality that goes beyond numbers. Numbers on pews on its own does not essentially mean growth, However they are always an indicator that something is happening, so they could be an indicator of growth.

John Maxwell puts it like this: people are desperate to see a moving thing, and many will jump on without knowing the heading but many of these will jump off when there is a cost implication or they discover for whatever reason the direction of movement is not the destination they want to reach.

Leadership also is important but it has to be the right type of leadership, Charismatic leadership, clear leadership, hard working leadership sometimes even loving leadership each on its own is not enough,

The Main summary that sums up growth in church is the statement ‘Healthy churches grow.’

The seven marks of a healthy church are

  1. Energised by faith
  2. Outward-looking focus
  3. Seeks to find out what God wants
  4. Faces the cost of change and growth
  5. Operates as a community
  6. Makes room for all
  7. Does a few things and do them well

This is one model, but there are others , like the Natural Church Development principles:

  • Empowering Leadership
  • Gift orientated ministries
  • Passionate spiritualities
  • Functional structures
  • Inspiring worship servicesHolistic small groupsNeed orientated evangelism
  • Loving relationships

All types of churches grow but all growing churches have these qualities in common:

What is the Diocese doing about it?

  • Investing in New ministries
  • Releasing funds for mission and outreach
  • Working on adopting models of one of the healthy church models to commend recommend train in resource and release Healthy Churches, Natural Church Development, Leading your church into growth, etc
  • Encouraging deaneries to plan a mission with the Bishop
  • Encouraging Children and Youth work
  • Setting up a whole new Archdeaconry for New Christian Expressions
  • Strategic partnership and understanding from our own province and beyond.

However when all is said and done

Unless the Lord Builds the House, those who labour will labour in vain.

Answer: Ven Mones Farah, Archdeacon for New Chrisrtian Communities

QUESTION 2: As the Church is depending more and more on unpaid volunteers in the roles of priests, readers, focal ministers etc, and given that most people who are able to commit that amount of time will be of the older age group, how can the Church avoid giving the public the impression that our church is made up of older people when we are trying to attract youth?  (Caroline Evans)

Before I answer it, may I just say that we as a diocese are hugely grateful for everyone who has the courage to step up and offer themselves for any kind of ministry and work in the church whatever their age or background.

Also, may I correct an impression that everyone who is offering themselves for public ministry at present is of an older age group? Of the current cohort of seven NSM(L)s in training, only two are well above retirement age, two are at retirement age and three are well below it, one of whom has only just turned thirty. Of our three Reader candidates, two are well into retirement and the third is younger. Both our NSM ordinands are, I believe, in their early fifties and our five stipendiary ordinands are in their thirties and forties.

But to the meat of the question- how can we look young enough as a church to attract young people? Research tells us that, people joining a church look for people like themselves. In age that means about ten years either side of their own age. Studies also tell us that it takes a good seven years for someone to answer a call to public ministry in the church.

So how do we grow young leaders?

Well, under Clare Williams our youth officer we have tried some things- the youth forum, weekly mailings, a youth residential. We have children and youth workers. Clare’s contract finishes this winter and she is moving out of the diocese. She would want me to urge us all to have a strong strategy for targeted outreach to our young people and to invest in them because the young people we do have contact with come from a very small number of churches and groups.

But there are other factors to consider as well. The social and economic pressure on those of working age mean that it is very hard for them to join anything beyond work and home. Young people find it hard to move into many of the communities we serve because of house prices and lack of services. If you think this is wrong, use all the political influence you have to make our working and our living more fair.

Secondly, I would want to challenge the assumption that anyone should be neatly boxed up by something as arbitrary as a birth date. If in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek nor slave or free, nor male or female, surely there is neither young nor old too, but we are all one in Christ Jesus our Lord. We need to see ‘like us’ as being about loving God, wanting the best for people, trying to live the best lives we can, being forgiven, being blessed and not at all about how old we look, or how we dress or what cars we drive. For others to catch this truth, we have to live it ourselves.

So, it is up to all of us to encourage one another, particularly those younger than ourselves, to live their lives as fully as they can for Christ and that does not just mean leading worship. Many will be influenced for good by a Christian colleague or family member or friend who have not yet come to church for anything but a wedding or a funeral. You are the face of the church to them, not the focal minister or priest or Reader. We have to make sure that, however long many of us have worked together, someone new can always feel that they are welcome and needed and valued for who they are. If the whole church can give this kind of witness it will matter far less the age of the person at the front.

ANSWER: Canon Rhiannon Johnson, Director of Ministry

QUESTION 3:

Llongyfarchiadau a diolch i bawb sy’n gysylltiedig gyda’r gwaith cyfredol er mwyn sicrhau bod gwefan yr esgobaeth ar gael yn ddwyieithog. Wrth i’r ardaloedd gweinidogaethol lleol ddatblygu, pa strategaeth neu gynllun sydd gan yr esgobaeth er mwyn sicrhau ei bod yn cyflawni ei chenhadaeth yn effeithiol yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg? (Revd Lyn Dafis)

Congratulations and thanks to all involved in the ongoing task of ensuring that the Diocesan website is available bilingually. What is the strategy or plan that the diocese has to ensure that it is able to fulfil its mission effectively in Welsh and English as the system of local ministry areas develops?

Fel rydych wedi gweld o ystadegau Jean, mae’r Gymraeg yn cynyddu, ac fel yr Eglwys yng Nghymru, mae’n rhaid i ni fod yn gwneud yn rhan i sicrhau dyfodol yr iaith gymraeg. Felly, mae’n ddisgwyliedig neu efallai yn ddyletswydd arnom fel eglwys i ddarparu oedfaon cymraeg neu oedfaon dwyieithog i sicrhau ein bod ni yn cadw lan gyda’r angen yma. Rhaid i ni hefyd gofio, i rhai o’n hen oed ac yn enwedig y rhai yng nghefn-gwlad, efallai y gymraeg yw eu hiaith gyntaf, a’r iaith y maent yn mynegi eu hunain ynddo orau, ac efallai yn gweld e’n anodd i fynegi eu hunain yn saesneg. Anodd i gredu efallai, ond yn wir.

Cyn i mi fynd ymlaen, rhaid dweud bod rhai ardaloedd yn ein hesgobaeth yn gwneud yn dda o rhan y gymraeg, yn ddigon ffodus i gael offeiriaid cymraeg, ac felly yn gallu darparu oedfaon cymraeg neu rhai dwyieithog yn aml. Ond yn anffodus, beth sydd wedi dod i sylw yr esgobaeth yw bod rhai eglwysi, plwyfi ac ardaloedd gweinidogaeth, ddim yn cynnig oedfaon cymraeg o gwbl, neu yn gwrthod eu cynnig, ac mewn rhai, mae statws y gymraeg wedi cael ei tanseilio. Ac mewn cynhadledd i edrych ar y materion hyn rhai misoedd yn ôl, roedd rhai o’n plwyfolion yn teimlo yn ddug iawn am y sefyllfa.

Felly, mae angen i ni feddwl sut allwn wella’r sefyllfa yma. Efallai, ble bynnag mae’n bosibl y dylem gynnig oedfaon cymraeg neu o leiaf rhai dwyieithog, ac wrth dwyieithog dwy ddim yn meddwl ‘token gesture’ o ddweud ‘croeso’ ar y dechrau a dweud y fendith yn gymraeg ar y diwedd. Ond os fel hyn y mae mewn rhai eglwysi, efallai yn well i’w adael yn gyfan gwbl, ac ond i ddefnyddio y saesneg.

I gynnig oedfaon dwyieithog rhaid eu gwneud yn gywir, ac os na allwn fel offeiriaid wneud hynny, efallai y syniad orau byddai i weld os oes yna offeiriaid eraill, darllenwyr lleyg, neu arweinwyr addoli, sydd o fewn ein hardaloedd gweinidogaeth sy’n gallu gwneud hyn. Oherwydd dyna beth yw bwriad yr ardaloedd newydd yma, sef i weithio ar y cyd gyda’n gilydd fel tim, i edrych ar gryfderau pobl ac yna eu defnyddio.

Pan gafon ni y Gynhadledd Gymraeg ddiwethaf, roedd yn dorcalonnus i glywed cyflwr y gymraeg mewn rhai ardaoloedd o fewn ein hesgobaeth. Yr adborth cawsom oddi wrth rhai plwyfolion oedd neillai bod dim oedfaon yn digwydd yn y gymraeg, neu bod rhai offeiriaid yn gwrthod cael oedfaon cymraeg o gwbl, ac mae hwn yn codi pryderon.

Mae’r esgobaeth yn sylweddoli bod rhai pobl â diffyg hyder i wneud oedfaon cymraeg neu rhai dwyieithog, neu yn methu siarad yr iaith o gwbl. Rwyn deall yn iawn hefyd eu bod yn anodd i’r rhai ohonom sydd yn gallu siarad cymraeg i ysgrifennu oedfaon a phregethau yn ddwyieithog, oherwydd mae sgil arbennig i wneud hyn, a nid dim ond ail ddweud pethau yw e. Rwyn cynnwys fy hyn yn un sydd yn gweld hyn yn anodd.

Efallai bod rhai ohonoch yn gofyn, ‘os ydy’r esgobaeth am i ni wneud hyn’:

i) ydy nhw yn mynd i ddarparu gwersi cymraeg i ni?

ii) ydy nhw yn mynd i ddarparu gwersi i’n hyfforddi i wneud oedfaon/pregethau yn y gymraeg?

Rwyn bersonol yn credu, ac mae hwn yn rhywbeth i drafod, y dylai’r esgobaeth fod yn cynnig/darparu yr hyfforddiant yma i ni. Fe af gam ymhellach, gan ddweud efallai ei fod yn ddylestwydd ar y dalaith i sicrhau bod gwersi cymraeg, a gwersi sut i ysgrifennu yn ddwyieithog, yn cael eu cynnig fel rhan o’r

hyfforddiant yn St Padarn, ac efallai y gallwn ofyn i Esgob Joanna drafod hwn gyda’r ‘powers that be’ yn y dyfodol agos.

Hefyd o rhan ysgolion Eglwysig Cymraeg yr esgobaeth, fe ddylai, ble yn bosib, i’r gwasanaethau yn yr ysgolion hyn hefyd gael eu gwneud yn y gymraeg, ac rwyf fel Swyddog Ysgolion yr esgobaeth yn diolch i’r rhai ohonoch sydd wedi bod yn ymdrechu i wneud hyn yn barod, ond, mae yna wir angen i’r plant yma glywed cymraeg graenus ar adegau, er mwyn iddynt weld bod y gymraeg yn rhan bwysig o’r eglwys.

Y pethau rwyf wedi codi fan hyn yw y pryderon a ddaeth oddi wrth ein plwyfolion, felly mae’n bwysig ein bod ni yn talu sylw iddynt cyn eu bod nhw yn siarad gyda’i traed, a byddwn yn eu colli yn gyfan gwbl i’n capeli lleol.

ATEB: Hyb Dorrien Davies, Archddiacon Caerfyrddin