By Shannon Youell
“During this time we have an incredible opportunity to rethink, reimagine and remission ourselves.”
Last week, as I was switching cell phone service providers, I had a conversation with the support tech around our new work-from-home reality. It was a conversation that was becoming quite familiar: people and families are awakening to a new dynamic of living that many are finding less stressful, happier, less costly and overall, more satisfactory, as they transition from commuting to workplaces to working from the home office. The dynamic is causing much rethinking and reimagining on how people want to live their life—their mission, so to speak—after the world returns to regular safe activities.
As churches we have the opportunity, as this blog explored, to rethink the way we gather and scatter. We have a window in which to reimagine what it means to be the church, the ecclesia, the ones called out as citizens of the kingdom of God to influence the world as people of Shalom.
Specifically, as we are thinking about meeting together in common spaces again, what kinds of hybrids might God be communicating to us? What new rhythms should we not discard once we can have “regular” life again?
To get you thinking, we’d like to re-introduce you to Andy Lambkin. The last time we shared Andy’s insights on the blog was in 2013! Andy works within church planting with the Alliance organization and has a network of churches in the Vancouver area that have already been on a twelve-year journey of rethinking, re-imagining and re-missioning.
Simplechurches is a network of house churches that are still very connected with one another. They have presence in multiple neighbourhoods, extending the Presence, grace and mission of God right where they live, work and play.
Of course, simplechurches was a church planting mission from the beginning. This gave them latitude to shift their cultural expectations of how the gathered church should look, even before they put the structures in place to do so. For the majority of us who meet in buildings together, there is a more complicated journey to re-missioning ourselves.
Our existing preconceptions and presumptions of what church gatherings must incorporate can often hinder us to imagine we can change anything and still have meaningful worship together. For many of us, we are finding that for some, it just “isn’t church,” if we don’t spend one or two hours singing together, praying and listening to teachings in a single location. Yet, our current reality has imposed upon us an opportunity to discover (and perhaps to be introspective) of what it is we value most and allowing ourselves to ask those hard questions, as posed in the previous blog, and be attentive to what God is communicating through all this and what it is we should be paying attention to.
It may be a time to pray, think, brainstorm and discern a hybrid type of gathering. It may mean rethinking what our small groups do, utilizing deeper discipleship with Shared Practices that all groups do together. The emphasis here is on the discipling of one another within the whole and for the benefit of the local neighbourhoods and for the larger gatherings of celebration together (PS: check out this incredible 3-part series on Practices, Postures and Leadership from Forge Canada).
What might it look like to gather together for fellowship, the breaking of bread, the Apostles’ teaching and prayer in homes on a Sunday, with every fourth Sunday all gathering together to celebrate God-With-Us in song, prayer, testimony, preaching? What might it look like if we did that with two or three other networks to share the building space and costs? How might these shifts end up changing how we are church in the world?
This is just one possible hybrid to explore, but it should get us started on our re-missioning journeys.
I encourage you to watch these two short videos, in which Andy shares the amazing way the simplechurches community discerned God calling them to rethink, reimagine and remission. Ponder, pray and give yourselves permission to rethink.
Video 1: In the Beginning
Video 2: God’s Going to Tamper with the Water Systems