REFLECTIONS ON THREE RECENT GATHERINGS
I recently been to three significant gatherings. I have outlined the gatherings below and then in separate posts I will fill out my reflections
The FIRST was our network’s (Relational Mission) ‘Unpacking the Vision’ days where the apostolic team and others unpacked how, as a family of churches, we are responding to what we feel God has called us to.
The SECOND was a gathering of leaders representing the churches that were planted out of and/or are are in partnership with The City Church, my former home where I served as an elder for seven years and from where we were sent from to plant Redeemer Church Colchester.
The THIRD was The City Church’s ‘Global Sunday’ gathering when the church take a Sunday to celebrate all that God has done and is doing in them and through them - inviting churches that have planted out of City to join them. They also take up an offering to further advance church planting initiatives.
#1 Relational Mission ‘Unpacking the Vision’ Gathering
Two days together with elders and other leaders across the Relational Mission family during which the apostolic team and others unpacked how, as a family of churches, we are responding to what we feel God has called us to. Things that I was struck by;
One of the things I love about RM and those that lead us is the aroma of authenticity. Our leaders are not trying to be something they are not. They are not trying to fit a mould of what some expect ‘leadership’ to look like. They are honest, open, vulnerable, faith filled worshippers of Jesus who are seeking to serve God in the sphere of influence given to them.
I often get asked the question for us as a church plant ‘what is your vision’ and I often wrestle with the question because I think I know what people are after…a succinct, heart stirring, action directing, resource calling goal. That’s great - I am pro-vision! I think the Bible is packed with vision that stirs our hearts, directs our actions and calls us to give everything for…however I am always uneasy when the vision as outlined in a statement or the like stirs my heart more than the Bible does with its grand vision! I realise the two are not necessarily separable…all godly vision should be a clear outworking and faith goal of what is already laid out in the Bible…maybe broken down into what we feel God has particularly called a specific group to at a specific time. So hear me - I am pro-vision! But I know my heart and want it to be as excited day in day out to outwork the holistic biblical vision that will live beyond me…many ‘heroes of the faith “died not having received what they ‘had vision’ for”. It did not deter them…
These ‘Unpacking the Vision' were brilliantly put together and led by men who live out the above. They first love Jesus, His Church and have a vision to see Him and His bride glorified. Any numbers, goals, resolve were brilliantly expressed as our ‘faith response’ to that much larger and far more sustaining vision. If you are a wonderful vision caster it can be easy for people to each year look forward to being stirred to action by another ‘exciting vision’ chapter…that is not necessarily bad! But the only vision that will sustain you, fuel you, call you to sacrificial grace given resolve and action is one of Jesus and His grand mission. I get nervous when I, or our people, are more stirred by my best efforts to express vision than they are by Jesus, his purposes and the glory of His bride. I walked away from these days more eager to serve Jesus, more excited about Jesus and His church. I love the dates, the numbers and the goals…they bring focus for this people in this season - fantastic! But the way the Vision was unpacked was brilliant - humble, faith-filled, Jesus saturated.
Similarly to the above, the ‘aroma of humility’ was tangible. Someone once said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, of thinking of yourself less…the difference is that thinking less of yourself leads to ‘I can’t do it/I am nothing…’ whereas thinking of yourself less leads to ‘Jesus I look to you, you can, you are almighty, by your grace we can…’ During these days humility was tangible…there was faith, resolve, hope and hunger fuelled by the grace of God and His greatness and goodness.
We were also wonderfully led to ‘weigh together’ the prophetic words that had shaped the particular vision being expressed. The ‘vision’ was the na response to ‘If these words are legitimate then what is our faith-response.’ Stef Liston led us through this asking the following helpful questions;
Is the word-piece reliable and trustworthy?
Does it chime with other prophetic words?
Does a word like this reflect the expression of New Testament Christianity?
Does it reflect the character of God?
It was a joy, as alway at these gatherings, to have such fun, depth, honesty and camaraderie with dear friends. This sustains and strengthens me. I am grateful that such a culture is modelled, prioritised and facilitated. It smells New Testament like! It is not professionals simply coming to be ‘trained’…it is family - brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers coming to be drawn together, equipped and sent out to enlarge the family - HIS family.
I am very grateful to be part of such a family, led by such Fathers who call us to our best and in all things point us to Jesus.