Pathways is an inclusive publication that can be read by anyone and used to further the mission of the Church, writes Jo Duckles. That was the view of a group of people from St Laurence’s in Winslow as they got together to reflect on issue one of our brand-new magazine. The Revd Andrew Lightbown, the Rector, arranged the evening which saw 17 people discuss the content and presentation of Pathways over tea and biscuits in the church hall.

The group split into two as people were free to give their views on the 24-page first edition, which first hit churches in January. At the end of the evening, they got back together to feedback what had been discussed.

“I think when people look at the front cover it looks appealing. It’s inclusive – anyone can read and engage with it,” said one participant.

“We could use this to further our mission and make it interactive, putting it in libraries and other public places. It could be given to someone who is not a Christian and it’s readable,” said another.

They praised our Step One section, which aims to introduce an element of Christianity in a way that will enrich and inform the practices of inquirers and disciples alike. In issue one this focused on How to Pray.How to Pray tells people they don’t have to be the same as everyone else, there are different types of prayer and ways to pray, you don’t have to stick to one path,” said a participant.

One group suggested the print might be too small for some people to read. (We have a PDF version available here so people can zoom in and of course, our audio edition – Editor) They also suggested articles on the clerical structure of the Church, the need for synods and a piece addressing why there appears to be so much bureaucracy in the Church of England.

One teenager attended the evening, which was open to people of all ages. She liked the magazine. “People of my generation function through the internet. On the Tesco Ergo Sum piece about shopping, we will look for more answers by going to the websites to help us expand our faith and our knowledge. I like the boxes that appear later in the magazine with just one sentence as we are used to picking up on bite-size pieces of information.” She was referring to the Making a Bigger Difference in the World section, which included a list of top 10 tips for being more environmentally friendly, and a Focus on Schools piece.

There was unanimous praise for the Head to Head section, which presents two differing perspectives on a topical issue and for How to Dwell in the Word, which they said was: “…good as it helps you learn how to share your faith and to expand it. You need others to help expand your faith with you.”

As the group re-convened Andrew asked them whether there was anything in issue one that might help Christians with evangelism or help them to make a Bigger Difference in the World. One person said: “I think Dwelling in the Word because it’s something you can do as a community. It doesn’t have to be done with people you know.”

“As for making a bigger difference, we have started to be a Fairtrade church again. We were years ago but the person who co-ordinated it moved away. We are getting back into it now.

The group said they did miss the news that was included in the Door newspaper – sharing good practice of what was happening in other churches in the Diocese, including snippets about how a parish had, for example, raised funds for a new roof. (We are experimenting with a pull-out containing local news, as well as publishing regular exclusive stories and features from around the Diocese in Pathways Live. But they praised the attractive, modern layout and approach to contemporary issues. “It’s coffee table reading that can be kept for reference with greater longevity than the Door.

“It’s something visitors can take. St Laurence’s is a beautiful medieval church with a surprising amount of footfall. Pathways is missional in the sense that visitors can take it with them.”

The final article they turned their attention to was the Who Told You section, which featured Diocesan Communications Director, Steven Buckley, writing about the people who led him to faith.

“I think sharing our stories is integral to deepening the life of people in churches and most churches are bad at it,” said Andrew. The group discussed the possibility of using Who Told You to inspire congregation members to share their testimonies in church or small groups. They also wondered if people were too shy to share publicly, ways of doing it anonymously through the parish newsletter.

What did you think of the first edition of Pathways? Issue Two will be in churches from May 15th. Tell us your views and order your copies now from communications@oxford.anglican.org