I have decided to write to you all as we begin this significant new year of 2017.
As EMCF, we have had some major changes over the past few years, but God continues to bless us (including over 70 baptisms across EMCF in 2016) and we have many stories of changed lives.
As we know, 2016 has been a year of international turmoil, including some big political decisions that affect us all. Yet we remain confident in the One who 'raises up and brings down'! We need to continue to trust in Him. He is in charge!
I want to communicate to you all some of the exciting developments and plans that we have for the future of EMCF. We are going into 2017 with a fresh sense of God speaking to us and have some exciting ideas around a 'Vision Recast for EMCF'. Our preaching series throughout January is entitled ‘Better Together’ and will take place across all of EMCF. We look forward to seeing everybody at the EMCF Celebration in Derby on Sunday 12th February at 10.30am.
We trust that you will join with us, as we believe that God has spoken about a greater focus on our togetherness. This will involve 3 main ideas:
A NEW NAME FOR EMCF
East Midlands Christian Fellowships has been our overarching name for around 36 years. Many of you will know the story, and how we wanted the name to reflect our vision and expand our horizons at the time. It has served us extremely well over this period of time, and has helped us to stay focused on our vision for the East Midlands.
However, we now believe we have come to a time when we want to have a stronger corporate identity, with a new name that is simpler and more contemporary. EMCF has been the name for our charitable trust; it has given us our identity as a corporate group of local churches. Today we want a name that will not restrict us geographically, but will allow us to continue to Go - Plant - Build into the future, without boundaries. Our vision is to see this group of local churches develop into more of a 'movement' that will expand and grow over the next few years.
The new name will only apply to EMCF....we intend to keep the local church names (i.e. Belper Community Church, Pathway Community Church, etc.) Each local church would be subtitled ' A part of [our new name]'.
This would involve a new logo, website and visuals that would unite the local churches in a more defined way as part of our corporate identity as a charitable trust.
A NEW WAY TO EXPRESS 'BELONGING TO THE CHURCH'
Many years ago, we used to have a church 'membership' - a defined point of belonging to the church as a 'committed member', with clearly- agreed expectations for everyone who was committed to the church.
In recent years, we haven't had any defined points of commitment, but instead we have expressed a more general level of acceptance for everyone.
Whilst we definitely want to continue with this acceptance that everyone is welcome and can
participate in church life, we feel that it would be a helpful step to re-introduce a fresh sense of agreed expectations for those who are clearly committed to our church.
We will be calling this 'Partners in the Vision'. As we unpack this for you all, it will be with the intention of helping people to grow in their sense of belonging to the church with a greater level of commitment.
A NEW LEADERSHIP TRAINING PROGRAMME
Leadership training has always been a priority for us as the church has grown over many years. Today, we see the need to put a greater focus on developing different sorts of leaders for the 21st century. We want to help people to grow in their God-given gifts, especially those with gifts ofleadership and ministry.
We intend to encourage each local congregation to take responsibility to develop local leaders, but then as we grow stronger in our corporate identity, we expect to train more mature senior leaders together. A new programme will be established this year, called 'INSPIRE', which will have the potential to train leaders from across EMCF and further afield!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
There are a couple of things that we would value...
Firstly, we want your input and thoughts about a new name. It could prove to be more difficult than we think to come up with a new name that everyone is happy with. However, we want to respond to the changing times, and to what God is saying to us today. If you (or your group/ community) has any brilliant ideas that might help us, then send them in to Julie Hill at the CCD office (firstname.lastname@example.org), and they will be seriously considered. Thanks...everything helps at this stage!
Secondly, you may want to give us some feedback on the idea of 'Partnership'. It is aimed at helping people to fully realise their sense of belonging to EMCF (or whatever the new name will be). We aspire to be a regional 'movement' that has the potential to make a huge impact in our generation, right across this region and beyond! The kingdom of God needs highly- committed people who are agreed in their love of the church and its mission!
Finally, we would want to encourage everyone to pray for this next year. We believe that God has significant things for us this year. We continue to pray for His Presence to fill the region, and for there to be an expectation and faith for wonderful and unexpected things to happen!
I trust that you feel a great sense of optimism and faith for this coming year. We believe that it will result in a significant 'step change' for us.