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Learning in Congregations Network Proposal Summary Version [Full version available upon request]

Submitted to the Mission & Discipleship Council November 2013

For a large print version of this proposal please contact








Aims of learning in congregations


Facilitating learning


Streams of learning


Structure of the network


Role descriptions


Annual LinC forum


Resourcing learning


Frequently asked questions


Online portal


Working group




Christian Life Together resource Section 8.3 of GA 2013


16-18 19

Background The Mission and Discipleship Council (MDC) hold a remit to: Take a lead role in developing strategies, resources and services in Christian education and nurture, recognising these as central to both mission and discipleship. Congregational Learning seeks to equip and resource local congregations for the work of mission and discipleship in their locality. The General Assembly of 2013 passed section 3 of the Mission and Discipleship deliverance: Urge all Presbyteries to collaborate with the Council in the development of a network of Congregational Learning Facilitators. (Section 8.3—see page 19). The Congregational Learning (CL) team as part of its work within MDC seeks to develop a network of learning facilitators. CL proposes to develop and support a network that encourages and resources learning and discipleship for acts of service. The structure of the network should facilitate initiatives for the local congregation. For this reason the proposed title and ethos of the network is Learning in Congregation Network – the LinC Network. The LinC Network will function within the Presbytery structure coordinating with the local Church. CL will actively support and resource the network. The Network coordinates with the wider activity of CL and MDC—in this regard it supports three particular goals:

Inspire and support Christian learning

Resource the Church

Connect and equip the people of God 3

Remit The LinC Network supports Presbyteries, congregations and ministries of the Church in their commitment to mission and discipleship. By encouraging continuing Christian development we seek to support the equipping, growth and maturity of disciples. Through a network of learning facilitators, signposting of resources, local, regional and national gatherings we will nurture an ethos of ‘faith seeking understanding’ that empowers all in the Church to grow in Christ as we worship, learn and serve together.

Aims of learning in congregations The LinC Network, in coordinated collaboration with established ministries of the Church of Scotland support and encourage learning in congregations. Some aims of learning are noted below, and local congregations may wish to add their own objectives to this list. 

Growing up in Christ

Strengthening unity with one another

Increased understanding of the Church of Scotland

Developing skills and knowledge needed for Church life

Equipping the whole Church for acts of service

Missional activity of the Church

The Mission and Discipleship Council seek to support local congregations in the on-going activity of Church life. To facilitate this growth in Church, we seek to develop resources and networks that empower and equip congregations to personal development in faith, and commitment to acts of service. 4

Facilitating learning In our Christian learning and discipleship we are united as we respond to God, to each other and to the world. The intention for learning in congregations is to empower, equip and resource the Church for the Christian life. Our learning together is a response to God, a response to one another and a response to society that we serve. God’s call upon us is simultaneously simple and complex: we are called to love God and love one another, yet how this is expressed can take many different forms of activity and expressions. We have rich traditions and ways of doing this in the Church of Scotland – and this diversity is united in the confession of Christ that we make together as a Church. Our learning together is also a response to one another – how we facilitate the life of the Church. Our tradition is one of continual development – continued reform – and we seek to establish a network that is able to respond to the changing nature and needs of the Church in our age. We respond to the society in which we are placed to be agents of God’s hope and love. The Mission and Discipleship Council seeks to support the development of missional initiatives and communities that can express and witness to God’s love with confidence, authenticity and grace. In order to equip the Church for life today we intend to develop a network of facilitators that can support the local congregation and Presbytery by highlighting resources, training and other initiatives that will enable them to grow in the areas that as a Church they seek to develop. The emphasis of the network is to facilitate what is already happening, or could happen, in the local congregation. This will involve recommendations of known resources, courses, studies, etc. to enable the local congregation to be the agent in their own learning and development. Mission and Discipleship will continue to develop particular resources and training events, but the facilitator will be able to draw on the rich resources from other denominations, agencies and organisations. This scheme of facilitation has proven incredibly successful in other spheres of Church development, such as with Future Focus. 5

Streams of learning Christian Life Together

Our Missional Life


Future Focus


Matters of justice

Mission in our community

Caring for the earth

Caring for our society

Fresh Expressions

Developing leaders

Bible study skills

Community projects & initiatives

Discipleship plans

Welcoming the stranger

Vocation and calling

Becoming a missional people

Specialised topics: science & religion; politics and society; interfaith dialogue, etc.

Advocating for the vulnerable

World mission links

Being part of your community


Overview The learning streams outline areas of Church life the network will actively support and resource. It facilitates a balance of skills, knowledge and discipleship required for Church life together, and supports collaboration in congregations, presbyteries and denominations. The learning streams provide a guide to the learning adventure. Christian Life Together Our Church life is a life in a worshipping missional community. Empowering congregations through Christian understanding we seek to spur one another onto love and good deeds (Heb 10.24). Working in coordination with the ordained ministries we seek to equip different part of the Body of Christ in the Christian life. Missional Life Together Alongside other teams in MDC, plus other Councils, churches and agencies we seek to resource local congregations for the missional work to which God has called them. This will take many exciting forms, and the role of the facilitator will be to assist the local congregation to find what they need to get to where they want to go. This will build upon the amazing work of Future Focus. 6

Our Unique Story

Skills & Talents


Pastoral care

Session Clerks

CoS History

Health & Safety

Introduction to reformed theology

Food handling

Health and wellbeing

Presbyterian church

Leading a meeting

Ministries of CoS

Enabling your people

General Assembly

Understanding one another

Business of church life

Being a welcoming church

Young people involvement in the Church

Developing a culture of learning

Understanding gifts & talents

Our ministry to every region

Ministry amongst young people

Our Unique Story This area of learning is to develop and encourage understanding of the Church of Scotland – and in doing so we are able to meaningfully and effectively shape its future. This stream of learning will support provision for Elders and Session Clerks. It provides an opportunity to learn the history and arrangements of the Church which will help enable greater participation within the structures and decisionmaking groups. There are exciting opportunities to be found here in drawing links between the academy and the Church to strengthen and revive the historical connections. Skills & Talents The writer of Hebrews encourages Christians not to give up meeting together – ‘coming together’ in worship is an essential part of our Christian life together. It is essential that support and advice are provided to enable this process. MDC support congregations in their ministry of meeting together as a worshipping and witnessing community, in which all are welcomed, equipped and empowered for the life of discipleship. This includes provision in the area of skills and knowledge, such as help in planning a café-church event, or signposting good practise for food handling. It is the practical building blocks that facilitate Church life together. 7

Structure of the network

Local Rep Local Rep LinC


Local Rep Local Rep


The LinC Facilitator becomes a primary point of contact for the Local Reps in congregations. The structure is presented in the horizontal format to demonstrate the non-hierarchical nature of the work. The network seeks to support and facilitate local congregations in their own learning. This model provides a means of communication between all parties – for example, through a Local Rep it is discovered that there is a need for a resource on caring for church members with dementia, this can be fed back into the wider network via the LinC Facilitator and MDC – the result of this could be signposting to a partner agency with skills in this area, or developing resources specific to the Church of Scotland. This structure reflects the long-term strategy for a sustainable network of learning and development.




To give regular scope for LinC feedback into Presbytery. Someone identified in Presbytery as the primary point of contact for the LinC.

To support and coordinate with the LinC Facilitator.

Voluntary role. Medium to high commitment. Some Presbyteries may require / wish several LinCs.

Primary oversight of the LinC Facilitator. Coordinates with the LinC to help sketch out learning needs in Presbytery.

To be a local advocate for learning. Be a primary point of contact for congregations for the Network.


To be an advocate of learning opportunities in their congregations. To communicate with the LinC any learning needs. Voluntary role with low to medium commitment.

Presbytery & Congregational Learning Team. Works with Local Reps to resource and aid them in their advocacy role. Facilitates learning opportunities, resources, identifies needs, etc. To facilitate learning opportunities and identify needs within congregations and Presbyteries.

Coordinates with LinC Facilitator.

LinC Facilitator.



Presbytery wide.

In location.

In the local congregation.


LinC Facilitator


Local Rep


High level of commitment. Congregational Learning have forecasted high commitment to the ongoing development of the Network.

To develop the national coordination of the learning network.

Congregational Learning Team report to Mission & Discipleship Council. To provide on-going support, development, training and resources for the Network.

Congregational Learning Team Mission & Discipleship Council.

Role descriptions

Annual LinC Forum The LinC Network will find its main source of training and input for the facilitators through the LinC Network Forum. This annual gathering will be a residential weekend that gathers all facilitators plus key MDC staff. The purpose of the weekend is to facilitate learning and development together, plus share good practise, and look at the year ahead with upcoming aims and goals. This also provides an annual opportunity to gather for vision, equipping and support. There ought to be time in the programme for facilitators to have one-on-one appointments with MDC staff to discuss any on-going issues. Outline Purpose

Description LinC Facilitators gather for weekend residential. This provides opportunity to: share ideas, discuss best practise, receive training on latest initiatives and resources, ignite collaborative working across the country, contribute to resource development.


Strengthen network. Train LinCs. Demonstrate resources. Outline goals. Conference planning. Updates for Local Reps.

Regional Divisions

There is scope for the regions to coordinate with their Mission Development Worker to have regional meetings that would allow for relationship building and training with locality strategy, i.e. joint training days, providing resources for mission initiatives, etc. The Forum can continue on an online forum – although this will not be an initial priority for development as current provision is not being utilised fully. LinCs. Congregational Learning. M&D Development Workers. CL Team Leader, CWW Team Leader, Faith Expressions Team Leader. Presbytery staff. LinC Administrator.

Online Support Participants


Potential Costs

Working in conjunction with the M&D theme for developing resources, we will outline the theme for the year. This provides an emphasis for the direction of development but does not exclude other areas of training and signposting. The cost per LinC for the Forum will be kept to a minimum. The cost could be covered by the Presbytery with an agreed cost-unit per volunteer LinC outlined annually. All other costs are covered by the Mission and Discipleship Council, such as training materials, resources, etc.


Resourcing learning The diagram below outlines key areas of resourcing that will be supported by the LinC Network in coordination with the wider work of Congregational Learning and the remit of the Mission and Discipleship Council. Other Councils and agencies could potentially feed into the Network through resourcing and signposting.

LinC Forum The annual Forum will bring together LinCs and staff from M&D to communicate and learn together. New initiatives and resources will be discussed with appropriate training given. LinC Toolkit An online portal that works in conjunction with hard-copy material. Easily updated to ensure LinCs have the latest information. Monthly bulletins will ensure up-todate information and signposting is distributed effectively. LinCs should have working knowledge of M&D resources and initiatives.


The Christian Life Together Study Manual The purpose of this publication is to provide a hard copy (and digital version) resource that gives attention to the four streams of learning. This will provide a resource that is annually contributing to our learning agenda. It would include articles from ecumenical partners, academic faculty, and experts in respective roles. This is an opportunity to empower the Church in the strong tradition of teaching and mission that the Church of Scotland has carried for many years. Please see Page 16 for more details. Reading Group This could be on a particular theme or topic. This would work in conjunction with our resource development strategy. It could also feature in Christian Life Together. Online Resources The M&D Council has made concerted effort to develop online resources via the website. The LinC Network would seek to work in collaboration with this venture by dedicated LinC area, and being active contributors and advocates for the site. Signposting With a commitment to ecumenical work, and with an eye to budgetary and human resource realities, there is an obligation both theologically and operationally to direct congregations to quality resources, such as courses, books, conferences, training material, videos, etc. Signposting is also relevant for Church law, such as familiarity with Acts of The General Assembly, Law Circulars. Regional Events There is potential for local initiatives to be remotely supported through the Congregational Learning team, for example highlighting the event on Resourcing Mission. Collaboration may be possible with the Mission Development Workers and LinCs, etc. National Events The LinC Network would help facilitate national conferences – this is likely to be one annually. This would allow for input from notable speakers and contributors, and the sharing of ideas from wider groups.


Frequently asked questions How does this Network differ from the PAT Network? The emphasis on ‘facilitation’ is a different way of supporting congregations. It allows agency of learning to be held at the local level, and it supports the work that is already happening in that location. It provides a permission-giving and sustainable system which is relationally driven and supports the structures and roles within the Church. The LinCs will help support and guide the learning developments within Presbytery. The Network seeks to maximise current resource and create space for fresh developments where required. What will happen to the PATs? Current provision from M&D for the PATs will remain in place for up to two years. The intention is that as a Church we transition to the LinC Network to maximise its effectiveness. It is the hope that many of the PATs will be keen to be involved in the LinC Network. What will this Network mean for the PYCTs? Current provision for the PYCTs is minimal. It is the intention that the goals and aims of the PYCT Network could be incorporated into the LinC Network. M&D will not be providing on-going development for the PYCT Network. What is the difference between ‘training’ and ‘facilitating’? Training is still an important element of learning. However, a key element in learning is that we learn the right things – that we ask the right questions and get appropriate answers for the questions that we are asking. The purpose of the facilitator is to respond to the questions that congregations are asking – and even assist them to begin to ask them. If a local congregation wants to start a café-church then their learning needs, therefore questions, are rather different to a congregation wanting to explore stained glass windows. Both are great initiatives – and the intention of the Network is so support the identified learning needs and goals of a particular congregation and Presbytery. How will the LinC Network relate to other existing networks within the Church? Coordinated collaboration is a key value to the Network. Consultation is key in the development of the Network, and we actively seek links with other Councils, agencies and churches. Working together is a theological conviction and an operational imperative. 13

How is this Network financed? Mission and Discipleship Council provide a staff worker, resources, and central support for the Network. They will facilitate the annual Forum. Expenses incurred by the work of the LinC Facilitators are met by the Presbytery. The voluntary work of the LinC is supported by the Forum which is coordinated by M&D, with expenses met by Presbytery. Phase Two of consultation will have further outline of this area. In what way can children and young people get involved? The LinC Network seeks to support all aspects of congregational life. Children and young people are an integral part of this. Specialised training and resources will be made available for the Network for those working with this group, as well as for children and young people themselves. Who will conduct training? Working with other Councils, agencies and churches we seek to develop training resources, but also signpost to other established resources that will aid the Church. Some training will be required and this will be coordinated in collaboration with M&D, Presbytery and local congregations.

Online portal In coordination with the Communications Department and the Resourcing Mission Working Group the Network will seek to ensure access to resources and the Network. A strategy plan specific to this area will be developed to support resources, the Network and other initiatives.

Working group The group is convened by Rev. Jamie Milliken of MDC. Members of the group: Ian Graham, Lynne McEwen, Barbara Leppard, Keith Ross. M&D Staff: David Plews (secretary to the group, Congregational Learning Development Worker) Lynn Hall (administrator for the group, Senior Administrator in MDC) 14

Timeline An estimated sketch of the timeline that the working group are working towards. This is flexible to take on board the riches from the Presbytery Consultation, and the on-going regional consultations. November Bo’Ness Consultation

May Fringe event at GA

Online review of proposal

Promote CLT Develop ‘facilitation’ skills for LinCs

December Online survey closes

June Develop LinC Forum

Draft report from consultation

Develop LinC Toolkit

January Report issued

July Have confirmed list of first year LinC Presbyteries

Draft copy of Christian Life Together (CLT) developed February Blueprint for network developed

August Develop online presence for LinCs

Confirm resourcing theme: eldership

LinC Network at NYA

March Invite first presbyteries to join network

September LinC Startup Forum Promotional drive for CLT

Support identifying volunteers Develop CLT April CLT goes to print

October Eldership resourcing

Continued work with Presbyteries

CLT year two development


Christian Life Together An annual resource to enable the Church through learning. Below is a draft from our media team. A full ‘mock-up’ is available on request—contact David Plews We will ensure large-print and other versions available in order that this resource is accessible for all.

The purpose of this publication is to provide a hard copy (and digital version) resource that gives attention to the four streams of learning. This will provide a resource that is annually contributing to the learning agenda. The concept would involve having articles from “outside” sources, so this would include ecumenical partners, academic faculty, and experts in respective roles. This is an opportunity to empower the Church in the strong tradition of teaching and mission that the Church of Scotland has carried for many years. The “journal” will have an annual theme to coordinate with the resourcing plan of Congregational Learning, e.g. Eldership. 16

Example contents: Editorial Our Story articles x 2 Skills and Knowledge x 2 Christian Life articles x 2 Missional Life articles x 2 Book / resource reviews x 3 (possibly by students / church folk) Testimonials of good practise Areas to consider that the Church has stated a commitment to: Priority Areas, Children, Young People, changing nature of church.

Distribution: The journal could be distributed through the LinC Network, and would be available on the Resourcing Mission website. Ideally the cost of the publication would be kept low in order that distribution can be wide. Frequently Asked Questions on CLT: 1.

Why printed material in a digital age? Printed publications are far from dead. The rise of digital media has forced printed publications to innovate in design and content. Working closely with the Design Team, we want to produce an outstanding publication that inspires, innovates and creates. With a long-term digital strategy in development, we are confident that this printed publication will establish a much needed brand and resource. It may be the case that in four years we can go fully digital, although the concept of CLT is to be a resource that can be found in church buildings, offices, halls, etc. It needs to have a physical presence. It would also be used in training / study group settings which would require the material to be in-the-hands of those using it – currently printed material is required for this experience which is integral to the resource. It will be used like a workbook – written on, notes, comments, doodles, flags, etc. 17


What will the online presence be for TCL? As covered above, the online strategy is in development to ensure that this resource is available to all. The design and content work together for a coordinated learning experience. Taking learning styles into consideration we are being deliberate about the presentation and design – it is part of the resource not simply the means by which is distributed. Much work has been done in this area in terms of theology, philosophy and education.


What about the other publications of M&D? Some other M&D publications have moved to a fully digital version. They have been able to establish their brand and have a strong following. With CLT we will work as an integrated part of the Congregational Learning resource strategy that works in conjunction with the LinC Network, and resource the current PAT Network. For example, year one we may decide to focus on ‘eldership’, therefore that year’s edition of CLT would focus on the eldership through the four learning streams. This would then stand as a resource that could be used for many years until it was decided that another (updated) edition was required, again in coordination with the resource strategy.


Section 8.3 of GA 2013 8.3 As a result, a series of recommendations were made to the Council in February which contained proposals for a new structure and way of operation of Congregational Learning (for those interested in the full report it may be accessed at Among the main points of the report were:  

 

  

Its prime focus will be the education and growth of members of all ages in congregations as they engage in their faith journey from baptism onwards. While some particular courses will be developed for members of the Church of specific relevance to the Church of Scotland, care will be taken to acknowledge ecumenical co-operation and the possibility of identifying courses that are readily available from other sources. The recruitment of a Team Leader with responsibility for this area of the Council’s remit. The appointment of a Learning Development Worker to work under the direction of the Team Leader and the Congregational Learning Council Group alongside our existing Children and Young People’s Development Worker. The Congregational Learning area would rely on a network of ‘Congregational Learning Facilitators’ who would offer support and assistance to congregations and presbyteries throughout the country (this would incorporate the existing Presbytery Adult Trainers Network). While some Congregational Learning Facilitators would have particular interests, for example Future Focus, World Mission initiatives, Church and Society projects, others would work in a general way to support the important issue of the development of individual members of congregations. The Council would continue to provide specific training for Session Clerks and others in leadership roles; in particular, the Eldership. The structure proposed is designed to enable the Council to live within its budget and facilitate the learning of members through a network of trained and supported volunteers. All Presbyteries have a crucial role in encouraging the recruitment of Congregational Learning Facilitators, to ensure a network which covers the geographical spread of Scotland and Presbyteries beyond.



LinC Network Proposal  

LinC Network Proposal - Mission & Discipleship Council of the Church of Scotland.

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