Peace to This House

By Shannon Youell

Praying in our neighbourhoods is not some new postmodern formula for evangelisation. Though some see it as quite foreign, Jesus and His disciples did just that. One of my favorite verses–well actually a combination of two from John’s writings–is when Jesus said He only did what He saw His Father doing and spoke what He heard His Father speaking (John 12:49, 5:19 my paraphrase).

Jesus walked about His ordinary everyday praying and listening: listening and praying to know where God was at work in the world. Jesus was waiting to step in and reveal the Father to those around Him.

heart.jpeg

When Jesus sent out others to share the Good News of the kingdom of God, He instructed them to go from place to place looking for where God was already at work: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house’. If a man of peace is there your peace will rest on him: if not, it will return to you” (Luke 10:5-6).

“A man of peace” indicates someone who God is already at work in, whether they are aware or unaware, someone who will listen to what the disciples have to share.This required the disciples to be attentive to where God was at work, which required them to be listening to the Father in a posture of prayer.

Luke 10 gives us much more to ponder and act upon, but as we are focusing on prayer in our neighborhoods, we leave the other instructions for another time. As we have been talking about how we engage with our neighbours, friends, co-workers, we must never lose sight of the fact that, as Cam Roxburgh states in Forge Canada’s new E-Book Volume 1, Loving God and Neighbour, “the missional conversation is about the nature and action of God in our midst, and not first about how we develop a strategy for reaching our neighbours.”

When we develop strategies without first praying and listening, we can have all the best intentions and plans in the world, but still be faced with indifference when the soil is still fallow. Prayer is our dual action of becoming more comfortable and confident that God still speaks to us today, and of preparing the hearts of ourselves and those we are praying for. As we pray for our neighbourhoods and other significant spaces, we invite the Spirit to shine light on the fields and reveal to us what He has already prepared. We are the workers. But without walking those streets, those halls, those trails and cubicle aisles, without praying as we walk, we are the unaware ones–unaware of where God is inviting us to stay awhile, eat and drink, hear stories of the lives of the people around us, and see how God is working.

From my experience, neighbourhood praying isn’t a single prayer. It is prayer that does not cease until God reveals his work both to us and to those we have been praying for. There is strategy for sure….strategy is praying consistently and listening intently. Listening to the Father always comes first for it is, after all, His work that we are joining.

I’ve mentioned before that I prayer walked our neighborhood for many years before something began to shift. Once the shift happened, I then asked God for a strategy. He gave me an uncomfortable one: to invite all the neighbors over for a “meet the neighbours” party. From that party we have been building deeper relationships with one another. These have become some of our people of peace, but it only happened because of prayer and listening.

Advertisements

Seminars in Regina and Vancouver

There are two great learning opportunities upcoming with Forge Canada.

The first is a FREE event with Cameron Roxburgh in Regina, SK:

Faithful Presence November 5Register here for Faithful Presence.

The second is in the Lower Mainland, BC, with Preston Pouteaux:

Keystone Vancouver What if Jesus followers imagined themselves as keystone people – those who create neighbourhoods where others thrive, blessing and shaping their environment so everyone can find life? Some scholarships available for smaller churches.

Register here for Keystone People.

Questions? Shoot me an email at cmorgan@cbwc.ca.

You can keep up with all Forge Canada resources and events at forgecanada.ca.

Missional Leadership

By Cam Roxburgh, National Director of Forge Canada

It has been said, “The church rises and falls with leadership.” I guess it depends on what is meant by leadership. And whose leadership.
Banff-2013-Myrna-Sears-David-Ohori
Over the 22 years I have been privileged to be a pastor, I have been enamored with much of the material on leadership. I have been influenced by the Willow Creek Leadership Summits, been a part of Leadership Network and have had leaders of wonderful ministries speak into my life. I am grateful for them and for what I have learned. Of course, I have shelves full of the latest-greatest leadership books in an effort to go from good to…well you know what I mean.

My concern is that our understanding of leadership has grown away from what God intends for us. I confess that I have been guilty of this. Whether we see leadership as an art, or a skill, or whether we say it is all about influence, we must take note that we have begun to act and think as though leadership is the most important gift or role in the body. We begin to believe that it does all depend on us. Both of these are—in and of themselves—dangerous.

As we have grown in our missional understanding of God and the church over the last 15 years, new questions have been raised over our understanding of leadership. But that journey has only just begun. There are many who are asking questions of the way we have read the text or have structured ourselves in the functioning of the church. Isn’t followership much more of an important issue in the New Testament? Doesn’t Jesus warn about copying the leadership patterns of the world?

Forge exists to help churches (existing and new) become more missional. In Ethos, a two-year process of producing missional DNA, we begin with an exploration of Missional Leadership. This first module of Ethos looks at developing the character and competencies that Christ fostered in His disciples. We assume that leadership is first about becoming like Christ and living in the reality of the kingdom of God, bearing witness to the Christ that dwells within us. In light of this, we at Forge suggest a number of important components for missional leadership formation.

First, we start with theology. This is about God, and about His mission to redeem all things. Perhaps in the contemporary church we have adopted more secular perspectives of leadership that inadvertently cause us to believe that success depends on us. Far too often I am aware both in my own life and in the lives of many pastors I meet, that we believe at some level that it is all about us. When we begin with the question—“What works?”—we inadvertently begin a conversation about the church, mechanics, and our own strength. But missional theology reminds us that this is upside-down. We must begin with a different question—“What is right?”—and recognize that our conversation and action take place in response to the nature, presence, and action of God. Our lives bear witness to God. Missional Leadership participates in the mission of God and so anticipates and bears witness to the reality that all things are made new in Christ. It is God who redeems the world.

Second, we recognize that missional leadership is about helping God’s people recognize God at work in their context. Theology (who God is) leads to missiology (what God is doing). It is a very different kind of leadership that helps God’s people focus on the journey and not just the destination. Instead of just finding success measurements, leaders help God’s people pay attention the work of the Holy Spirit in them and around them. Perhaps putting our eggs in the basket of business-type leadership has caused us to think that we are responsible for the growth of the numbers in the church instead of paying attention to where He is at work.

Third, missional leadership develops the competencies that Jesus was fostering in His disciples. In the kingdom of God, there is a very different approach to life than there is in the Kingdom of the world. This includes leadership. Gardens produce flowers and vegetables, but the gardener is responsible for creating an environment that fosters growth. Missional leadership recognizes that those who have the gift of leadership in the body of Christ are not responsible for growth. Rather, they foster an environment where growth can take place. The competencies of missional leadership reflect the seemingly upside down nature of the kingdom of God.

Leadership is important, but the church rises and falls with the leadership of Jesus, and on our willingness to follow. Leaders create an environment for growth to happen.

Cam RoxburghFind this article in its original context in December’s Missional Voice newsletter. Cam Roxburgh is the National Director for Forge Canada, the VP of Missional Initiatives for the North American Baptists, and the Team Leader at Southside Community Church in Vancouver, Canada. He lives in Surrey, British Columbia with his wife and four children. cam.roxburgh@forgecanada.ca