This past weekend I had the privilege to help lead, teach and facilitate a Mission Shaped Ministry Cohort with Fresh Expressions U.S. – one of the organizations I work with.
We had almost 50 hungry and diverse pastors and denominational leaders from New Jersey, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania coming together to meet regularly over the next year in a cohort structure to explore the various ways that God’s Spirit may be seeking to do a new work in their contexts. It is a hopeful re-imagining of ‘how we do church’ where the Holy Spirit takes the front seat to our plans, not our strategies or sure-fire approaches we picked up at the latest ministry conference.
I taught an introductory session on the Mission of God and its implications on our lives. Here are a few things we explored.
- Christology informs our missiology which informs our ecclesiology – and should come in no other order to remain faithful to God and His kingdom. In other words, Christ informs our understanding of His mission which informs why and how we do church. Unfortunately, the process has been exactly the opposite in the North American Church for quite some time.
- God’s mission is saturated in God’s outlandish love – and that love compels us to respond. We do not respond faithfully to God’s mission by guilt, manipulation or legalism.
- We discussed the question: How is the Christian view of mission different than the view of mission held by our culture? By other world religions or philosophies?
- Fresh Expressions believes we’re called to pursue a kingdom of God approach to church – not a church approach to church. When individuals and entire communities of people commit to submitting their kingdoms to God’s kingdom, the church is present. I used the illustration of the yield sign. When I put my foot on the brake at a yield sign, I am acknowledging that Someone else has the right of way in my life. I do the same with God when I yield to him.
- We cannot see fresh extensions and fresh expression of the kingdom of God without an ever-deepening trust and reliance on the work of the Holy Spirit. I showed one of my favorite YouTube clips on how the Spirit works and desires us to be in partnership with him.
Here is the New Jersey cohort I will be working with specifically over the next 12 months – several pastors from the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey (ABCNJ). Some of them pastor churches that are 100, 200 and even 300 years old! I am excited to be journeying alongside of these great people throughout the year and seeing what new work God will be doing in their communities of faith.
For more information on Fresh Expressions US check out the website here.