Our Common Vision Resources

Resources you can use


If you are exploring a call to become more Christ-like or want to tell the Christian story with love and hope and confidence, then this section of the site is for you. You’ll find tools and resources for parishes, small groups and individuals to use, many of them free of charge.

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Featured resources and tools


Study guides

Four study guides, written by Bishop Steven, explore what it means to become more Christ-like for the sake of God’s world. The guides are suitable for homegroup and personal study. Each guide is £2.50 per copy and additional online resources are available for readers. Find out more.


Personal Discipleship Plans

A Personal Discipleship Plan (PDP) is an accompanied faith journey that explores six core questions to discern what God is doing in your life and what you might be called to next. It’s hugely popular. Find out more about our range of everyday faith tools and resources in our online edition of Pathways magazine.


Parish Planning Tool

The Parish Planning Tool contains everything you need to navigate God’s call for your church. It is suitable for use by every parish/benefice, whatever your local context. Visit our online store to order your copy and, once your pack has arrived, head over to the Parish Planning Tool resources page. [ADD LINK]


Development fund

Picture of the Development Fund FormsNot every new church initiative needs funding to get going, but some do. Parishes and benefices can now bid for grants from a new diocesan development fund to support local Christ-like Church projects. Grant applications can range from a few hundred pounds to many thousands. Find out how to apply. [LINK]


Prayer and reflections

Prayer

God of gentleness and love
Draw near to us as we draw near to you
Dwell in every heart and conversation
Fashion in us the likeness of your Son, Jesus Christ.

Help us to discern together all that you are calling us to be
And all that you are calling us to do.

Assist us, by your Spirit, to become a more contemplative,
more compassionate and more courageous Church
For the building of your kingdom and the glory of your Son.

Amen

Reflections

What does it mean to become a…


According to the gospels, Jesus often withdrew to spend time apart with God (Mark 1.35; Luke 5.16). Jesus calls the twelve disciples to be with him before they are sent out (Mark 3.14). In the great image of the vine, Jesus calls his disciples to abide in him so that God’s life may bear fruit in our lives.

To be a contemplative Church means:

  • To be deeply rooted in Christ as a branch in the vine, through prayer and worship, word and sacrament
  • To be sustained in joy and hope in the midst of a suffering world
  • To seek the continual grace and renewal of the Holy Spirit in our lives
  • To value deep wisdom and offer meaning
  • To take our theology seriously as dialogue with God as well as talk about God
  • To live in healthy rhythms of prayer and rest and work and be fully human
  • To be good news in an over active and busy world
  • To offer the gift of silence, still places and moments of encounter with the living God
  • To listen deeply to ourselves, to the world in which we live and to one another
  • To discern God’s call to us as individuals and communities
  • To wrestle with God
  • To surrender our doing in order to make space for stillness and dwelling, that God might be free to do and act within us.

Reflection: What does it mean to be contemplative?
by Bishop Olivia

It was the strangest of journeys. We were beyond hope, beyond thinking, beyond even imagining what tomorrow would bring. We just put one foot in front of the other, leaving the city and its gruesome scandal and idle tales behind us and heading for home.

The man joined us on the road – from where, quite, we couldn’t tell. And although we didn’t feel like chatting, he soon got out of us why we were so wrung out. So we continued the journey, not noticing the miles as he broke open for us an immense story we had not grasped. And arriving, sat down and watched him break open the loaf of bread which lay before us, then gone. In that moment we saw him and understood that he was author, narrator, and chief actor in a vast mystery, a cosmic passion play.

Sieger Koder captures the moment when Jesus vanishes, and the two disciples are left at the table in Emmaus. One gazes, hand uplifted, at the bright intensity of the silhouette at the end of the table. The other holds the broken bread with reverence, wondering at its meaning. The wine is ruby in the glasses. The scrolls of Torah are spread out. There is a great, timeless pause. We are invited into this scene of contemplation, of wondering immersion in mystery, as we strive with these, our brothers, to enter into the meaning of what has happened.

What does it mean for us to be contemplative? It is a deep enquiry of mind, spirit, imagination. It’s a letting go; immersing ourselves in the Other. It’s a slow journeying, ever deeper, into the mind and heart of God. Contemplation is not about what we do, it’s about who we are, and what we do springs from it. As contemplative people we are constantly formed and re-formed in loving relationship with Christ and one another. A contemplative heart is one that listens, longs, learns, one that wonders, cherishes, reflects and yearns.

A heart nourished by the bread and the wine which is Christ himself, constantly broken and poured out for us in incomprehensible love. A heart filled with wonder at the beauty and complexity of the whole of creation, its beat almost stopping at the sight of the new dawn breaking or the dragonfly’s wing. A heart enlarged by the Word of God as it is taken in, savoured, allowed to settle, connect and speak both truth and comfort into our joy, sadness and turbulence.

A heart which stills itself as a small child in its parent’s arms, ceases to struggle, relaxes and breathes softly. A heart which opens itself like a flower to the reality and presence of Love to bathe and permeate it.

A contemplative Church is one which deeply knows and deeply understands its identity – what it really means to be in Christ; what it really means to be one; to be connected, in communion, in relationship with friend and stranger and with this lovely and troubled world.

Contemplation is the place from which the Church must engage with the world, for if it does not start from here, it has nothing to say, nothing to offer. It has but a tale ‘Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing’.

Stay with us, Lord
For the day is far spent
And we have not yet recognised your face
In each of our brothers and sisters.
Stay with us, Lord,
For the day is far spent
And we have not yet shared your bread
In grace with our brothers and sisters.
Stay with us, Lord,
For the day is far spent
And we have not yet listened to your Word
In the words of our brothers and sisters.
Stay with us, Lord,
Because our very night becomes day
When you are there.
Who do you say that I am?

Worship book of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (Seoul 1989)

TThis reflection is based on the Sieger Köder’s painting ‘Emmaus’ which cannot be reproduced here for copyright reasons.

The compassion of Jesus is evident from beginning to end in the gospels. Jesus is deeply moved in his encounters with the sick and bereaved. His compassion shapes his priorities from beginning to end (Mark 1.41, John 11.33-35).

The Church is called to demonstrate this same compassion: to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and visit those in prison (Matthew 25.37). Churches are called to be communities of kindness, gentleness and love.

To be a compassionate Church means:

  • To listen to the communities around us and to the wider world
  • To identify especially with the lost, the least and the last
  • To live out our faith as Christian disciples in acts of kindness and generosity
  • To act together to serve the poor, feed the hungry and welcome the stranger
  • To mourn for the suffering in the world and take that suffering seriously
  • To be tender and gentle with one another, bearing one another’s burdens
  • To find together a radical new Christian inclusion in the church
  • To provide places of hospitality and welcome for all in our church buildings
  • To offer to all, in love, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ
  • To nurture children in school communities marked by compassion
  • To steward and care for the earth
  • To take action for peace and for justice.

What does it mean to be compassionate?
by Bishop Olivia

Simon of Cyrene, hoiked out of the crowd by the imperious shout of a Roman soldier, finds himself standing with Jesus under the heavy yoke of the Cross-bar, gazing at the steep slope they must climb together.

Sieger Köder has painted them as if they could be brothers, these two men who have never met before today. At the end of the sharp and painful journey one will hang, pain-wracked, nailed to wood; the other will be free to go on his way, though changed for ever. Their hands around each other’s waists, their bodies close. They feel the life in each other, the sweat, the beating of each other’s heart, pushed down and together by the tremendous weight of the beam which cuts into their shoulders.

They stare ahead: the one in anticipation of what is coming, the other in unwilling willingness to share the weight that lies without and within. Compassion has the sharing of suffering at its heart. It comes alongside with gentle presence, tender love, desire to help carry the load.

We are called to be a more compassionate Church, and it begins with deep down knowing that we are each loved and precious to our Creator, every single one of the roughly 7,500,000,000 souls who inhabit our beautiful blue-green planet. We, God’s Church, cannot stand apart from the rest of God’s creatures in judgement or indifference. We are deeply part of one other across the globe, and when one part suffers, we all do. We are made complete by one other. We are called to be communities of kindness, gentleness and generosity.

A compassionate Church sings a song of lament, our hearts breaking when we see God’s precious children crying out in despair, hunger, sorrow, fear and pain. We pray and march and focus on practical help and service. We denounce the evil in systems, in religions, in power-hungry tyrants; we work for peace and for justice.

A compassionate Church is not a family – for one must be born into a family and an outsider will never really feel kin. It is a community of those who love, and who enfold the lonely, the sad, the grieving, the sick and the desperate in rich robes of warmth, understanding and acceptance. A compassionate Church speaks in voices which welcome the stranger, the outsider, the one who is different, and knows that its fellowship will be enriched when these become friends, and diminished if they do not.

Christ is yoked to the world he loves; he knows its fears, understands its temptations, shares its pain. From the cross he pours out his compassion on the world, and we, Christ’s Church, are called to absorb it into our souls and allow it to change us, to stand with all whose burdens are heavy, and share them as we yearn for mercy, peace and freedom.

And to be the face of Christ, the face of Love for one another.

Love is the touch of intangible joy;
Love is the force that no fear can destroy;
Love is the goodness we gladly applaud:
God is where love is, for love is of God.

Love is the lilt in a lingering voice;
Love is the hope that can make us rejoice;
Love is the cure for the frightened and flawed:
God is where love is, for love is of God.

Love is the light in the tunnel of pain;
Love is the will to be whole once again;
Love is the trust of a friend on the road:
God is where love is, for love is of God.

Love is the Maker and Spirit and Son;
Love is the kingdom their will has begun;
Love is the path which the saints have all trod:
God is where love is, for love is of God.
Words copyright © 1998, Alison Robertson, Edinburgh

This reflection is based on Sieger Köder’s painting, ‘Simon von Cyrene’. The image cannot be reproduced here for copyright reasons.

Jesus walks towards difficulty and suffering and takes the way of the cross. He sets his face towards Jerusalem out of love for the world (Luke 9.51; John 11.14-15).

Jesus calls his disciples to follow in this way of the cross (Mark 8.34, Matthew 16.24). The Church is a community of missionary disciples, gathered and sent to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5.13-16). We are called to make a difference through courageous lives of love.

To be a courageous Church means:

  • To deepen our vision of what it means to be human, of a just and peaceful world: to dare to practise hope
  • To seek to live our lives to the glory of God
  • To make a difference in our local communities through seeking justice and working for peace
  • To seek reconciliation in the Church and in the world
  • To be bold and consistent in our evangelism and witness to our Christian faith
  • To bear the cost of our discipleship through the whole course of our lives
  • To imagine and bring to birth new Christian communities in many different places
  • To work in creative partnership with other Churches, faith communities and organisations
  • To teach the Christian faith clearly and with confidence to children, young people and adults
  • To invest the resources we have been given boldly for the sake of the kingdom of God not hoard them in fear
  • To reshape our buildings continually for the sake of God’s mission in the present and future
  • To seek to reverse the decline of the Church in this generation.

Reflection: What does it mean to be courageous?

The Ven. Olivia Graham

Jesus sent his disciples off across the lake while he stayed behind to dismiss the crowd and spend the rest of the day in prayer. By evening, the weather had already turned, and the disciples’ boat, far out on the sea, was heading into the wind, and already being battered by huge waves. They had obediently done what he had told them, set off into a calm sea to cross the five miles to Genesaret. And now they felt very alone.

After hours of wrestling with the boat, and mounting anxiety about whether they would ever see the shore again, a strange, ghostly sight in the dim light of very early morning. A figure seems to glide towards them. They are by now cowering in the doomed boat, the sails torn, the mast down, their faces transfixed by fear. What new terror is this? “Take heart. Do not be afraid, it is I”; they’ve heard that voice before. Peter has a rush of courage: “If it’s really you, tell me to come to you over the water.” One word: “Come.” We know the rest of the story. It was inevitable really, two steps and then he made the nearly fatal mistake of letting his brain catch up with his feet. But his first response was wholehearted, full of courage.

Sieger Köder captures the moment that Peter slips under the water and he paints the clasped hands almost like a rope. But look carefully at the construction of this rope, it is made of three right hands. Who else is this lifeline being thrown to?

I wonder if you can see yourself in that little group in the boat, feel the mad thumping of the water on the keel (or is it your heart?), see Jesus come into focus in the gloom, and hear him call you? “Come.” To what is he drawing, inviting you, and how long will you think about it before you step out into an unfamiliar and unpredictable new reality? The danger lies in the not knowing where it will lead and how it will end: a journey of faith begins with that first step into the unknown. It’s sometimes best done in a rush of pure, wholehearted trust. Mary shows us the way, with her ‘yes’.

How can we be a courageous Church; a Church which responds to the voice of Christ, calling us as his Body here on earth? This little boat is full of fearful, storm-blown, doubting, frail humans, and we are being asked not to cling to its security. It’s no good staying in the boat, being ‘brave’ from within the safe enclave of Sunday morning routines and the security of like-minded Bible study groups and ‘churchy’ activities. That is not answering the call to be courageous.

To be courageous is to challenge the anxiety and complacency which so often beset us, to listen to God and to the world and to build the Kingdom. God tells us countless times in the Bible not to be afraid… and yet we hold back, fearful of change and what it will mean for all that we hold dear. “Do not be afraid, it is I.” When we are sure of who we are and whose we are, our hearts will be strong and unafraid, and we will step out of the boat in trust, knowing that his hand is strong to save. Listen, listen, what is that voice saying?

‘Take heart. Do not be afraid, it is I.’

Do not retreat into your private world,
That place of safety, sheltered from the storm,
Where you may tend your garden, seek your soul,
And rest with loved ones where the fire burns warm.

To tend a garden is a precious thing,
But dearer still the one where all may roam,
The weeds of poison, poverty and war,
Demand your care, who call the earth your home.

To seek your soul it is a precious thing,
But you will never find it on your own,
Only among the clamour, threat and pain
Of other people’s need will love be known.

To rest with loved ones is a precious thing,
But peace of mind exacts a higher cost,
Your children will not rest and play in quiet,
While they still hear the crying of the lost.

Do not retreat into your private world,
There are more ways than firesides to keep warm;
There is no shelter from the rage of life,
So meet its eye, and dance within the storm.

Kathy Galloway, Iona Community, 1989

This reflection was based on the painting Petrus schrie: Herr, rette mich by Sieger Köder. The image can’t be reproduced here for Copyright reasons