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Story 84 - Missional Community in the Tyne Valley

By Suzie Abramian in conversation with Revd. Paul and Barbara Revill
 
After many years of leadership experience in an established church, NBA’s Regional Minister Paul Revill and his wife Barbara, a minister in training, have felt led to explore pioneering a missional community in the Tyne Valley just outside Newcastle, alongside their current roles. Paul says that some of the calling behind this step was that as he took on the role of mission enabler in the Northern Association, he wanted to model what he was preaching, saying, ‘I can’t talk to other churches about mission and not be leading in mission in my own life.’ In particular, the couple felt this prompting towards mission within their immediate community in the town of Prudhoe, a place and area they have been rooted in as a family for many years.
It was Paul’s successor at nearby Stocksfield Baptist Church who encouraged Paul and Barbara to explore some kind of fresh expression of church in the area which would tie in with the Revills’ heart to connect with those who would not be drawn to existing churches.

Story84Pic1Beginning by gathering a core group together of about 9 people who had a similar heart for mission, they would meet weekly to pray, share life through meals and primarily seek God and his leading. For 18 months, Paul describes this time as quite hard for many of them in the group who were all mainly from established churches saying ‘it felt like we were doing mission the other way round’ as they resisted the urge to rush ahead with activity but instead focus on prayer and listening.
From this period of intentional listening the identity of the community started to emerge, and in early 2020 this was captured in the name ‘Camino’ which they gave to the community. Spanish for ‘the way’, Camino reflects their desire to be following the way of Jesus but also connects with Paul walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in 2019. The idea of pilgrimage is one of real importance to the community and in particular the pattern of living the whole of life as pilgrimage has been particularly pertinent because as Barbara says, ‘it’s about the journey, it not a vision to some sort of end point.’
With the intention to open out their gatherings to invite others in, particularly drawing on the diverse skills of the group, which include musicians, artists and evangelists, the first lockdown of 2020 arrived. Quickly the community decided to transfer their gatherings online, deciding to meet regularly on a mid-week evening for prayer with a more open meeting at the weekends to invite others to. Paul notes that moving online actually drew in more people who were either with faith or exploring faith but not connected with any church, and they now have a main group of around 14 people. 
From the outset it seems there has been an awareness to encourage creativity and participation within the group. Despite the limitations of online gatherings, they have managed to have musical and poetry evenings and use some of the principles from BigLife Ministries to encourage everyone to bring something to share from their own discipleship journey. For Paul and Barbara, they have noted that this requires leading with a light touch, letting go for everyone to take part, which can at times be daunting but appears to be connecting with those wouldn’t engage with more traditional models of church.
Although it is early days for this missional community, and in keeping with its culture of pilgrimage it may be hard to make too many plans, Paul and Barbara still hope that as they look forward to a time when they can gather in person, they can establish a focus of hospitality within the community and be out in the community more. There is also the sense that as the group hopefully grows, ways of diversifying may develop, especially considering the different skills and gifts within the community, such as connecting people through their music or artistic skills.
As they reflect on what has passed, Barbara notes how different and broadening this journey has already been for them personally and as a community, frequently pushing them out of their comfort zones. However, as Paul notes from their experience so far, they would greatly encourage others to simply, ‘have a go!’ observing that although we are so often afraid of failing, nothing will be lost by trying. Furthermore, Paul says that this journey so far has also shown them the necessity of ‘learning to follow, rather than lead God’, noting that vision is increasingly about seeking God and seeing what he is doing, rather than focusing on our plans first.











 
 
 
 
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Simon Goddard
Story91-100, MA_Podcast
Suzie Abramian
EMBA, Story91-100, MA_Social Action
Michael Shaw
SWBA, Story91-100, MA_Social Action, MA_Evangelism
Timothy Haines
CBA, Story91-100, MA_Church Planting, MA_Evangelism, MA_Social Action
Ruth Ward
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Ben Lucas
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