Leadership and Post-Christendom

by Mark Doerksen, Heartland Regional Minister, CBWC

11882_Bible-Ephesians

Shannon asked me to write a piece on leadership, and I am happy to oblige.  These thoughts on leadership have been percolating in my mind for a while now, so I’ll attempt to get these thoughts into some semblance of order.  I’m grateful for the opportunity, and grateful for the work of Cailey, Shannon, and Joell (the French pronunciation) for their work in church planting.

I was able to attend a class led by Darrell Guder at Carey Theological College in January of 2017.  For fun, Guder works on translating Karl Barth’s work into English.  So I wasn’t surprised to find out that Guder has also been instrumental in teaching David Bosch’s game-changing book, Transforming Mission.  Guder is no slouch; he’s currently the Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology Emeritus at Princeton Theological, and has taught in the area of the church after Christendom for a long time. He has used Bosch’s text as his main text book since Bosch’s book was first published, and really enjoys helping others understand the implications of Bosch’s work.

If you’ve read Bosch, you know that you may be tempted to skip a paragraph or two, but you do so at your own peril; seemingly each paragraph is rich and full of information that you don’t want to miss.  I appreciate Bosch because of his sifting of vast information, and his ability to formulate nuanced arguments for theology and mission, even today.  For example, if you were to attempt to get a definition of evangelism out of Bosch, you would have to read 9 pages with 18 different points, bearing in mind that mission and evangelism are not synonymous, though ultimately linked together.  Brevity isn’t his strength.

So too is Bosch’s treatment of leadership for the missional church today.  In Christendom, the responsibility of ministry lay mainly with the ordained, a power structure comprised mostly of men to lead the work of the church.  There is a shift in this thinking, as a movement is afoot to take this responsibility of a few ordained men and to make it the responsibility of the whole people of God (Bosch, 2014, 478).   Bosch describes this new reality as a rediscovery of the “apostulate of the laity” or the “priesthood of all believers,” a concept that isn’t new to Baptists (481).

In making this shift, people turn to texts like Ephesians 4 to think about leadership in this post-Christendom environment.  The history of interpretation of this text has not been smooth.  Calvin suggested that the only gifts necessary were pastors and teachers.  Some have suggested that the office of an apostle has long disappeared.  But missional theologians and thinkers like this passage because it speaks of the collegiality of leadership.   Leadership is not suited for one individual; instead, there are a multiplicity of gifts and abilities required for leadership.  Leadership is a community within a community.  The notion of a solo pastor making all the decisions for a community that bears witness is not a model that is as welcome as it used to be.  Instead, collegial, cordial, shared leadership amongst folks with different gifts seems to be the model moving forward after Christendom.  Folks like Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost write a lot about this model of leadership.

If Alan Hirsch is right about this, and if his church experience is to be an example for us, churches need to make a deliberate shift to this sort of leadership.  As he describes in The Forgotten Ways, the leadership of his church made a deliberate decision to embrace this leadership style, with each ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) having a team leader.  This posture allows for a dynamic learning system embedded in leadership, with the church poised for mission and health.

Of course, there are some theological reservations here.  If your Twitter feed is similar to mine, you will have read that not everyone agrees with the prominence of the Ephesians 4 passage for ministry and leadership.   Must each individual within a community of faith have one of the gifts of Ephesians 4, or are there other gifts?  The grammar police also have concerns; are pastors and teachers different gifts, or the same one, and what do the Greek grammar rules have to say about this?  You get the idea, and you may well add your voice to the concerns raised here.

And yet….  Given all the concerns about this sort of leadership, I personally find this collegial approach to be helpful.  I find it especially helpful and corrective in cases where solo pastors think they are the main people to hear from God regarding a particular community.  Related, this model also helps guard against authoritarian leadership in churches; it helps pastors move away from “thus sayeth the Lord” models to a model which shares leadership and responsibility, and which appreciates the gifts of the others who are leading.  Even my personality resonates with this sort of approach; I’d much rather work together with others than to dictate what has to happen.  As I see it, we’re a part of an upside-down kingdom (Kraybill) where we serve the other, not dictate to others.  Any model that helps us avoid dictator models, even benevolent dictators, is beneficial, though, as already mentioned here, these models need to be discerned as well.

Read an outline of Alan Hirsch’s APEST leadership here. Do you agree with Mark’s analysis? Are you a Bosch fan? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment on the blog or emailing cmorgan@cbwc.ca.

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Book Review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Rick Eitzen Reviews The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, 2002).

Team Meeting

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni suggests the biggest issue upon which any organization (corporation, NPO, charity, sports, church plant) will succeed or fail is the executive team. An organization can have the best talent, product, financial standing and board of directors but if the staff team is dysfunctional, the organization will flounder. He has identified five dysfunctions that plague teams:

  1. Absence of Trust – Trust and vulnerability are the foundation of any team. Inability to be genuinely open with one another about our mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation for trust.
  2. Fear of Conflict – Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate and instead resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments
  3. Lack of Commitment – Teams that can’t air opinions and debate passionately won’t buy in or commit to decisions, even though they may feign agreement during meetings.
  4. Avoidance of Accountability – Teams that can’t commit to a clear course of action hesitate to call each other out on counterproductive behaviours.
  5. Inattention to Results – Without accountability, team members will put their individual needs (ego, career development, recognition) or needs of their departments/congregations/small groups above the collective goals of the team.

The following are the opposite or positive attributes that make teams great. I have included at least one area under each that could be explored personally or as a church planting or church leadership team.

Trust – vulnerability-based trust is countercultural. Most organizations encourage competition among peers which wastes large amounts of time and energy managing behaviours and interactions within the group. Competitive instincts must be turned off for the good of a team. Learn to speak the truth in love without excuses.
Explore: Discuss one another’s weaknesses and support each other in them

Good Conflict – All great relationships require productive conflict to grow. Great teams engage in spirited ideological (not interpersonal) conflict to produce the best possible solution in the shortest period of time. Meetings should be more exciting than movies!
Avoiding ideological conflict in order to avoid hurting others’ feelings or tension results in back channel personal attacks.

Explore: Watch for topics raised often. These may indicate avoidance of conflict. Also, remember that process by which we arrive at a decision together is more important than the decision itself.

Commitment – Commitment is a function of clarity and buy-in. Great teams make clear and timely decisions and move forward with complete buy-in from every member of the team, even those who voted against the decision. They leave meetings confident that no one on the team is quietly harbouring doubts about whether to support the actions agreed upon. Consensus is not required for buy-in; reasonable people don’t have to get their own way in order to support a decision but only need to know that their opinions have been heard and considered. Don’t bypass the Conflict or Commitment processes for the sake of time or agenda. It will save time and energy down the road.

Explore: One useful tool is called Cascading Messaging. It’s the discipline of ending meetings by reviewing key decisions made and agreeing on what needs to be communicated to whom about those decisions. It gets everyone on the same page moving forward.

Accountability – Once a team has developed clear goals/decisions and committed to them, they can and must call each other on their behaviours and actions. This can be uncomfortable. We often overlook poor performance because we don’t want to impact personal relationship but the consequence is resentment. We’d rather pretend we’re getting along and accept mediocre results than to respect each other and have high standards for each other’s performance. Nothing motivates like the fear of letting down respected teammates. The leader can cause an accountability vacuum with self as only source of discipline. Problems arise when we assume the leader is holding everyone accountable and don’t say anything when we see something not right.

Explore: How we can better hold each other accountable and not defer to the lead pastor as the only source of discipline?

Collective Goals – The ultimate dysfunction of a team is the tendency of members to care about something other than the collective goals of the group. An unrelenting focus on specific objectives and clearly defined outcomes is a requirement for any team that judges itself on performance. The collective results of the team must be more important to each individual than individual member’s goals. Commit publicly to specific results to generate passionate, even desperate desire to achieve those results (not “we’ll do our best”).

As Lencioni says on page 148, “I want all of you challenging each other about what you were doing, how you were spending your time and whether you’re making enough progress.” As strongly as we feel about our own people and as wonderful as that is for them, it simply cannot come in the expense of the loyalty and commitment to our leadership team.

Explore: What would 2 year church goals look like? Which individual goals would contribute? How would your congregation accomplish these things together?

And here’s a final note of warning from Lencioni on page 217:

Team Status – For members of some teams, merely being a part of the group is enough to keep them satisfied. For them, the achievement of specific results might be desirable, but not necessarily worthy of great sacrifice or inconvenience. As ridiculous and dangerous as this might seem, plenty of teams fall prey to the lure of status. These often include altruistic nonprofit organizations that come to believe that the nobility of their mission is enough to justify their satisfaction.

Rick Eitzen
Southside Community Church, Surrey, BC.

Nine Bible Texts That Ought to Challenge Leaders

To be a Christian leader is no small calling. Whether you serve as a church pastor, a lay leader, or a Christian who leads in the secular world, you are under obligation to be a strong and faithful witness for Christ. Here are several texts that should challenge you—and provide you a grid through which to evaluate your life today.

1. 1 Timothy 3:2-7

While directed primarily at elders, this passage is not intended to be limited to those in that role. These texts describe a mature Christian whose lifestyle is clearly affected by his beliefs. I fear that we read these verses when first considering leadership, but fail to come back to them as regularly as we should.

An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy—one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap. (HCSB)

2. Joshua 1:8

We are to follow the Word of God. No exceptions.

This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it.

3. Mark 9:35

Contrary to the world’s idea of leadership, Christian leadership equals servanthood.

Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Photo Cred Bobby McKay

4. John 3:30

John the Baptist’s words about Jesus must ring true from our lips as well. The work of Christian leadership is always about Christ and never about us.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

5. Philippians 2:3

Christian leadership has no room for arrogance. Period.

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  

6. Matthew 12:36

As Christian leaders whose work is so connected to our words, we have a high level of accountability for our speech.

“I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.”

7. 1 Corinthians 11:1

We must live like the Apostle Paul – in such a way that if others imitated our lives fully, they would thus be imitating Christ. That’s a lofty calling.

“Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.”

8. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Though these verses particularly address Paul’s life, the theme echoes throughout Scripture: we lead best not in our strength, but in our weakness.

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

9. 2 Timothy 3:12

Following Jesus is costly. Christian leadership might, in fact, bring victory in a way most leaders seldom consider: through persecution and death.

 In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Use these texts today to assess your walk with God. If you need to confess and repent, do so (and if you determine that you have no room for improvement, you might want to go back and review #5 above).

What other texts would you add to this list?

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on August, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

How Involved Should a Minister Be in the Community?

Pastors and other church leaders have busy lives. How much of that time should be spent in their local community? Thom Rainer from Tennessee offers his opinion on the matter, and some helpful advice on how to expand your relationships in the community for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

Listen to the podcast here:

What about your experiences as leaders? How have you succeeded or failed in making every aspect of your life an example of God’s goodness? What steps will you take to be present in your community? Send us your thoughts to cmorgan@cbwc.ca.

The Power of Partnerships

This article is reprinted from CBWC’s monthly enewsletter, Making Connections. Click here to subscribe.

by Shannon Youell

 We labour not for our own benefit but for the benefit of the world around us that do not yet know the liberation of Christ in the midst of everyday life here on earth.

444874447_41ec92065a_bThe beginning of a new year often has us looking back at where we’ve been, so we can look forward to where we would like to go. Last year our CBWC community worked hard at inspiring us and reminding us of the value and power of working together.

For me, as a person who loves working in collaborative efforts and doesn’t really enjoy being a lone ranger, this rang strong and powerfully in my soul.

Along these lines, we are so glad that 2015 finds your Church Planting team complete with the addition of Joell Haugan as director for the Heartland region! We are excited to begin working together as a full team and expectant of the opportunities God has for each and everyone of us in the places and spaces where we live, work, play and pray.

Your Church Planting Team is working towards seeing 2015 the year where our whole CBWC community engages and participates in working together in the arena of church planting and this is your invitation to join in the power of partnering!

Here are a few ways your worship community can partner directly with a plant:

  1. God is the sending God. We have been commissioned to go make disciples…..to know and obey everything Jesus teaches. Talk to us about how we can inspire and resource your community to consider what a new community of disciples might look like in your midst. This can often be the catalyst for a new church plant.
  2. Venture with us. We have new communities right now looking for you to partner with them. We are expanding Venture Partnerships so that every one of us can be involved in them! A Venture Partnership (VP) is a partnership between a church plant and an established church that commits to financially, prayerfully support the new plant community. You might say you are the fertilizer that supports and feeds the plant to be able to grow strong and deep and wide. This is a year-to-year commitment of a monthly pledge of support ranging anywhere from $100.00 a month to $500.00 per month. Venture Partnerships come alongside CBWC support and each new church’s own resources to share in the work of expanding God’s kingdom.
  3. And finally, option 3: pray! Pray about which option, 1 or 2 that your church community will venture into!

To further the conversation, call us, or email us and let’s begin the amazing journey of partnering and co-labouring in the work of God around us! Also watch for my upcoming blog article on this same theme at churchplantingatcbwc.wordpress.com. Join the conversation on this blog to build lively thoughtful community around discipleship, mission, the great commission, the great commandment and other kingdom talk!

Get in touch:

  • Shannon Youell, Executive Coordinator and BCY Director: syouell@cbwc.ca
  • Ron Orr, Alberta Director: pastorron@platinum.ca
  • Joell Haugan, Heartland Director: jhaugan@cbwc.ca
  • Cailey Morgan, Communications Coordinator: cmorgan@cbwc.ca

6 Realities & Trends In Bivocational Ministry

By Karl Vaters of newsmallchurch.com.

I’m not a church planter. But I spent three days teaching at the Exponential West conference for church planters last week.

I’ve also never been bivocational. But almost all the teaching I did was with bivocational pastors – most of it tag-team teaching with Hugh Halter and Artie Davis.

So why was I there? The one thing we all have in common is the Small Church experience.

I had a great time sharing my story and the lessons learned along the way, and hearing their stories, too. Bivocational pastors have a lot to teach the rest of us.

Because of the chance to spend so much time together (over 10 hours of teaching and conversations) we all learned a lot about the current state of bivocational ministry and some trends we’re likely to see in the near future.

Here’s a recap of six of them.

1. Bivocational Ministry Is Not Rare

Most of the pastors in the world are bivocational. Always have been.

If you live and minister, as I do, in certain segments of the world where there are larger churches with full-time staffs, it’s easy to start thinking of that as the normal church and pastor experience. It’s not. It’s fine, but it isn’t normal. Bivocational ministry is how most of the world’s Christians are pastored.

2. A Bivocational Pastor Is Not Half a Pastor

Hugh Halter pointed out that, when 1 Timothy tells us “elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor,” it’s not because pastors are more important than others. It’s because bivocationality was so universal for leaders in the early church that the believers were encouraged to give an extra blessing to those who were making such extraordinary sacrifices for the church body. Double the sacrifice, double the honor. 

3. Bivocationalty Is not a Problem that Needs Fixingworkers-sign-e1413521884144

The Apostle Paul was a bivocational pastor. In fact, some people still refer to bivocational pastors as tentmakers because it was Paul’s profession.

Obviously, Paul’s ministry didn’t need fixing. There’s nothing “less than” about a bivocational ministry.

4. Bivocational Ministry Is Not Always Temporary

Many, maybe most of the bivocational pastors I talked to weren’t bivocational by choice, but out of necessity – and they were hoping it would be a very short temporary situation. But, just like many Small Church pastors expect their small size to be temporary, it often ends up being their regular state of ministry. We need to get used to the idea that bivocational ministry is more than a pit-stop along the way to full-time ministry, because…

5. Bivocational Ministry Is a Better Choice for Many Churches & Pastors

I learned a lot from Hugh Halter last week. I recommend his book, BiVo, for more good information of this topic. Hugh is bivocational by choice. And he makes some very strong arguments that it is often a better choice for many pastors and many churches, because being bivocational…

  • Allows for more money to go to hands-on ministry
  • Keeps pastors in touch with the unchurched and their real-world needs
  • Frees us from being trapped in the “ministry bubble”
  • Requires us to fulfill our biblical calling to train others to do the work of ministry
  • Makes the priesthood of all believers more of a reality, not just a theological belief
  • …and more

Artie Davis, whose church has grown to be quite large and could easily stop being bivocational, has also chosen to keep his janitorial business as his primary income source for many of the same reasons.

6. Bivocational Pastoring Is Likely to Become the New Normal

As I mentioned last week, in the post, My Church Is an Endangered Species, Unless…, one of the “unlesses” was that bivocational ministry may be a financial necessity for the survival of many small- to mid-sized churches in the coming years. That’s always been true for many churches in small towns, but it’s going to be more common in large population centers too. Demographic shifts and changes in why and how much people give will make bivocational ministry a necessity for many city and suburban churches if they hope to survive and thrive.

It’s Time to Sing the Unsung Heroes

Bivocational ministry has always been with us. And it always will. In fact, some of the greatest heroes of the faith, like the Apostle Paul, were and are bivocational pastors.

We’ll never know most of their names. But we can learn a lot from their sacrificial examples.

They deserve our support, our prayer and our fellowship.

If you’re BiVo, on behalf of the church I thank you for all you do. In the very near future, you may not be coming to our conferences to learn about pastoring, we may be coming to you.

So what do you think? What do you know about bivocational ministry that you can add to this list?

The Optional Commission?

by Shannon Youell

In Eugene Peterson’s The Message, the Great Commission reads:

…Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold names: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you…

So often, as Christians, we focus on the perceived “don’ts” of following Christ rather than pressing into the “do’s”. Here is a direct commandment that for whatever reason has become quite optional. Like buying the basic model of a car and turning down the options because they are too costly; you still get the car and it still gets you to your destination, but when the car doesn’t perform the way you expected, doesn’t make you feel something every time you drive it, you can’t really blame the dealer if he told you about the whole package and you opted out of it.

Discipleship is intentional, experiential, intense, accountable, stretching and involves our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Intentional communities, devoted to discipling people who then disciple people, who then disciple people, emulates Jesus’ model: in today’s language we might call it apprenticeship. Journey-people don’t tell apprentices how to be plumbers or electricians or chefs. They have them walk alongside them and learn from how they live their vocation.

When I read about the Early Church, I see them gathering together to build up, encourage, admonish, teach, pray for one another and the mission they are all on, equip and empower so that when they leave the gathering they are strengthened and encouraged to bring the presence and blessing of God’s Kingdom, God’s rule and reign into their everyday ordinary lives and the people that share those places with them in our everyday activities.

And here’s my thought on the Great Commission passage: Jesus said to first go and make disciples. Then baptize them.

It seems that the discipling, the apprenticing, the modeling of a life lived like Jesus happens while we interact with others. We share compassion, healing, mercy, joy, mourning and of course blessing with others and the way we do this exposes them to Christ. Then, when we introduce them to Jesus, they already recognize Him because they’ve seen him all along and he is familiar.

As people who love the Church and the things God loves and who desire to make impact in our neighborhoods, cities and nations, it may be time to shift from creating church to developing disciples who are church and take Christ to where those who don’t know the Hope of Glory live and work and play.

What do you think?

Watch this short video from Verge Network and let us know what you think about discipleship, or ask us how you might begin to develop a discipleship movement in your group.

This is Discipling from The Foursquare Church on Vimeo.

 

Missional Leadership

JD Woodward shares about missional leadership in this hour-long presentation.

If what Francis Chan said is true, that the Church is merely trying to “recruit” leaders rather than “develop” them, we need to empower our people to understand their gifts and to use them for the building up of the Body and the world.

Connected

A couple of months ago, we published the following article by Joelle Reiniger in our GO WEST! enewsletter. Joelle’s story has been such an encouragement that we’ve decided to post it again here. Now that the weather has improved and there are only a few weeks left of school for the kids, consider how your family can step out and connect with the people in your neighbourhood over the next weeks.

Last year our building fire alarm rang. Guessing correctly that it had simply malfunctioned, my husband Jordan and I reluctantly left our suite to join the group of groggy residents who formed a ring around our highrise apartment complex.Edmonton apartment building

We looked around at a community of strangers, who would likely never have been seen in one place without a fire truck on the way. This scenario could not be more different from the vision of community described by our co-pastor Karen Wilk, always urging us to live out the Biblical mandate to “love your neighbour as yourself.” Our neighbourhood is and likely always will be urban. Jordan and I love our proximity to arts venues, public transit connections and North America’s largest stretch of urban parkland, the North Saskatchewan River Valley.

As a former city hall reporter I have a longstanding interest in civic strategies to develop a sense of community in the city’s core, a passion Jordan shares. He works in the non-profit sector and is continually faced with Edmonton’s social problems including homelessness and the plight of the working poor. Through these experiences, we have come to believe that social isolation is the root of most of our city’s problems.

In North America, we are all too familiar with how difficult it is to combat isolation and loneliness amidst the busyness of our culture. There are limitations in time, but also limitations in space. From the car, to the cubicle to the coffee shop, our social spaces are ideal for filtering out unwanted human encounters, even in public places. This freedom to choose whom to interact with seems especially present downtown. There are 18 stories in our building. Most of the people who we share an elevator ride with, we never see again.

At first, this we didn’t view this as a problem. When we moved into our building, we had as many relationships and commitments as we felt we could manage. Yet, we found Pastor Karen’s teaching about “being” the church in our geographical neighbourhood compelling.

We caught the vision of taking literally the command to love our neighbour and to do so in a diverse community, not bound together by common interests, social class or consumer preferences but by the mere fact that we are people created by God for Him and for each other. Under Karen’s leadership, we began meeting regularly with other members of our church who wanted to participate in the work of God in their neighbourhoods.

Conversations often turned to the practice of hospitality, but as the rest of the group told stories about barbecues, potlucks and block parties, we doubted our built environment was conducive forming these human connections. In a downtown apartment, there is a stark division between public and private space. Other than our laundry, hot tub and fitness rooms, there are no public spaces for friendships to germinate.

With some trepidation, we hosted a Floor 5 Christmas party, just to see what would happen—to see if anybody would show up, if anyone else wanted to put a face to a laundry basket. A few did, and we had a great time, sipping spiked eggnog and swapping funny stories.

One thing led to another and, less than a year later, our neighbours are among the first people we think of when we plan to go out with friends or to invite someone over for drinks or dinner. With some, spiritual connections underpin our social ties. Our next door neighbour, also a Christian, has joined our Bible study. Another spiritually-minded man in our building has suggested forming an organized network to respond to the needs of neighbours as we learn of them.

In retrospect, it feels as though this process happened overnight, but our connection to the community got off to a slow start. We spent the first few months somewhat passively listening to Pastor Karen outline principles of the incarnational church. We spent a lot of time talking about how we hypothetically might connect with our urban neighbourhood.

Then we procrastinated, theorized and talked some more.

The turning point in our journey came a month or two after our Christmas party. We had connected with a handful of neighbours and could actually envision a thriving community in our Soviet-style apartment block. We also realized we could not participate in a Kingdom-centered vision for our community with only one foot in our neighbourhood. Relationships take time and meaningful community involvement was incompatible with our busy lifestyle.

Ironically, we found the time and space, in part, by limiting the scope of our formal church involvement. Our focus shifted away from viewing church as a spiritual fuelling station and as our default social network. We traded this paradigm for a vision of “being” the church in a more organic way in our community.

Increasingly, we came to view our Bible study group as our home church. We started taking communion together, devoting larger segments of our time to prayer, eating meals together and taking responsibility for each other’s welfare. This sense of connectedness naturally fuelled our desire to foster a Biblical model of community in our neighbourhood.

Last month our building fire alarm rang again. I walked around the base of the building looking for Greg, Krista, Dave, Teea, Devin, Jess, Josh, Hélène, Grant, or someone else to chat with while waiting to return to our apartment. When the bell rang, I felt safe. The Cold-War era concrete seemed indestructible, insulating us from the vulnerabilities of newer buildings.

I also felt secure because, this year, Jordan and I have neighbours who know our names and unit number—people who look out for us as we look out for them.

We are insulated, but we are by no means isolated.

This article from From GO WEST! 2.7 courtesy of Forge Canada‘s Missional Voice newsletter.

Seven Prayer Points

We’ve been praying for these seven aspects of our Planters’ lives (compiled by John Maxwell). Join us today in covering CBWC’s Church Planters in prayer:

  • Rest and strength (Psalm 23)
  • Intimacy with God (2 Corinthians 13:14)
  • Family (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Ministry Effectiveness (Ephesians 4:11-13)
  • Obedience to God (Luke 9:23-24)
  • Leadership (Romans 12:6-8)
  • Wisdom (James 1:5)