SUNDAY MORNINGS? Cam Roxburgh NAVIGATING MISSIONAL WATERS Len Hjalmarson INTERVIEW - Cam Roxburgh BOOKS Urban Ministry and After Virtue RESOURCES Vital Church Planting
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CAM ROXBURGH Sunday Mornings
starting position on the team if they had to miss a number of games. Perhaps you have used, or heard an even wider array of explanations.
Church attendance in Canada has moved from 3-4x a month on average to 1-2x a month. Gathering for worship is only one of many options we are presented with on a Sunday morning.
,GRQÂśWJHWLW'RHVQÂśWLWDOOERLOGRZQWRSULRULWLHV" ,VQÂśWLWDOODERXWZKDWZe value more? If I say I love my kid and want them to develop and then decide to take them to a soccer game instead of gathering ZLWK*RGÂśVSHRSOH,KDYHPDGHDVWDWHPHQWWKDW soccer will do more for my kid than being together for worship. And I am growing increasingly tired of the line that being a Christian is about more than attending a worship service. I get that part.
My family has faced this issue over the past few years. Two of my girls had the reality of soccer games on a Sunday morning. Another, an avid volleyball player, has had a number of tournaments on Sundays in the spring. My wife, a former professional tennis player, faced a decision to even be away over Easter Sunday to play in the world tennis championships. In a culture that finds church irrelevant, the competition for our time and attention will only get steeper as we go forward. How will the church respond? How will Christians learn to live as missionaries? Growing up I played soccer, a little hockey and football. Soccer was always on Saturday and so posed no conflict, but football was another issue. It was a ten game season, with three on Saturdays, but seven on Sunday morning at 11. I felt cheated by my mom and dadÂśVGHFLVLRQEXWLWVKDSHGP\ spiritual life as much as any decision they made. In order to help me see the importance of gathering for worship, they allowed me to play in three of the games, and to participate with them in worship at church on another three Sundays. During the final game, dad ordered me a taxi to take me from the service to the second half of my game. As a boy, of course I wanted to play in all of the games, but I know that they were trying to instill in me the spiritual value of gathering ZLWK*RGÂśVSHRSOH (Hebrews 10:23-25, 1 Corinthians 14 and others). So now as a parent, do I respond the same way my parents did? And how do I advise other families in the church to raise their children? I have heard many rationalizations for a decreasing church attendance. Some say they love their FKLOGUHQDQGZRXOGQÂśWGDUHKDYHWKHPPLVVWKHLU sporting events and grow up to resent church. Others have stated that they need family time, and get it best when they are at sporting or musical events. Some say that their child will not get a
We have died to the Kingdom of the world and have been born again into the Kingdom of God. We are spiritual beings learning to have a human experience, rather than human beings having a spiritual experience.
There are a few issues to ponder in this arena. First, as children of God, we have died to the Kingdom of the world and have been born again into the Kingdom of God. We are spiritual beings learning to have a human experience, rather than human beings having a few spiritual experiences (Teilhard de Chardin). We serve Jesus as Lord or King of His kingdom and we have our identity in Christ and in the family of God. We cluster together in local communities of faith, which are the body of Christ. Our love and allegiance is demonstrated in our obedience to the Father. We are not our own, but instead we belong to him and spend our every breath in serving him. Therefore we must see life through a set of spiritual lenses (kingdom lenses) and realize that immediate and perceived value, does not always equate to actual value. Making a decision to prioritize sports over worship may indeed be the complete opposite to loving our children. However, there is another side to this equation. It is about mission. Years ago, a member of our church came to his Mission Group to discuss relationships he had with friends who had asked him to participate in a flag ÂŠ COPYRIGHT FORGE CANADA
football league in the neighbourhood. It was ten weeks long, and the games were all on Sunday mornings. He was a new follower of Jesus and already saw the value of gathering for worship with other followers. He did not want to choose football over worship, yet he had also understood the importance of mission. What should he do? His group prayed and came to a decision together to ³VHQG´WKLVPHPEHUWREHDPLVVLRQDU\WRWKH football league for those ten weeks. They commissioned him and prayed every morning for his mission and got updates during the week on how things were going. Brilliant, but it came out of mission and was done in community. We must do all things from a perspective of mission. If we engage in soccer we would do well to do it from a missional perspective. And if we truly are engaging in these events because of mission, then we would do well to evaluate our times of gathering so that we might celebrate together what God has shown us on mission ± together. 'RQRWGRZKDWZRUNV«EXWZKDWLs right.
Dallas Willard ʹLeadership Journal, Spring 2010 [Pastors] need to have a vision of success rooted in spiritual terms, determined by the vitality of a pastor's own spiritual life and his capacity to pass that on to others. When pastors don't have rich spiritual lives with Christ, they become victimized by other models of successͶmodels conveyed to them by their training, by their experience in the church, or just by our culture. They begin to think their job is managing a set of ministry activities and success is about getting more people to engage those activities. Pastors, and those they lead, need to be set free from that belief. The Divine Commodity ^ŬǇĞ:ĞƚŚĂŶŝ͛ƐŶĞǁďŽŽŬŵĂǇďĞa defining publication this year. Skye was doing a blog tour in mid April and I noted this post at Reclaiming the Mission. David Fitch asks, ͞,ŽǁĐĂŶƉĂƐƚŽƌƐƚĂŬĞĂĚǀĂŶƚĂŐĞŽĨƚŚŝƐĞĐŽŶŽŵŝĐ upheaval to forge a new post consumer post American way of being church-‐ŵŝƐƐŝŽŶŝŶƚŚĞǁŽƌůĚ͍͟ In part, this is ^ŬǇĞ͛ƐĂŶƐǁĞƌ: ͞/ďĞůŝĞǀĞƚŚĞĐƵƌƌĞŶƚĞĐŽŶŽŵŝĐƌĞĐĞƐƐŝŽŶ͕ŝĨŝƚ is ƉƌŽƚƌĂĐƚĞĚ͕ƉƌĞƐĞŶƚƐĂŶŽƉƉŽƌƚƵŶŝƚǇĨŽƌ͞ĐƌĞĂƚŝǀĞ ĚŝƐůŽĐĂƚŝŽŶ͟ǁŝƚŚŝŶƚŚĞĐŚƵƌĐŚ͘/ƚŵĂǇĨŽƌĐĞƵƐƚŽ acknowledge many of the assumptions that have driven our view of ministry in many large churches as well as many smaller ones. Central to this, I believe, is consumerism-‐rooted believe that institutions are the ŝŶƐƚƌƵŵĞŶƚƐĂŶĚǀĞƐƐĞůƐŽĨ'ŽĚ͛ƐŵŝƐƐŝŽŶƌĂƚŚĞƌƚŚĂŶ people.
Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, The Trellis and the Vine ͞dŚĞǀŝŶĞŽĨŚƌŝƐƚŝĂŶŵŝŶŝƐƚƌǇŝƐƉĞŽƉůĞ͖ƚŚĞƚƌĞůůŝƐŝs the various organizational structures that exist for the ŚĞĂůƚŚŽĨƚŚĞǀŝŶĞ͘^ŽǀŝŶĞǁŽƌŬŝƐ͞ƚŚĞǁŽƌŬŽĨ watering and planting and helping people to grow in ŚƌŝƐƚ͕͟ǁŚŝůĞƚƌĞůůŝƐǁŽƌŬŚĂƐƚŽĚŽǁŝƚŚ͞ƌŽƐƚĞƌƐ͕ property and building issues, committees, finances, budgets, overseeing the church office, planning and ƌƵŶŶŝŶŐĞǀĞŶƚƐ͟;Ɖ͘ϵͿ͘dŚĞǁĂƌŶŝŶŐƚŚĞĂƵƚŚŽƌƐŽĨĨĞƌ repeatedly is that our tendency in Christian ministry is to let the trellis work take over the vine work (p. ϵͿ͘͟
͞dŚĞĐŽŵŵŽŶĂƐƐƵŵƉƚŝŽŶǁŝƚŚŝŶƚŚĞEŽƌƚŚŵĞƌŝĐĂŶ church is that with the right curriculum, the right principles, and the right programs, values, and goals, the Spirit will act to produce the ministry outcomes we envision. This plug-‐and-‐play approach to ministry makes God a predictable, mechanical device and it assumes his Spirit resides within organizations and systems rather than people.͘͟
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LEN HJALMARSON Navigating Missional Waters What do we do when our maps stop working? How do we locate ourselves, and then find the way forward? Eddie Gibbs offered us the clue: when maps stop working, we train navigators. In the spring of 1980 I was looking for a job. I crossed paths with a college friend who had just secured a summer job as a fishing guide. He planned to head up to Stuart Island in May to start training, and they needed more guides. I decided to head up to Stuart Island with him. My first day training was eye opening. I thought the ocean was a large, predictable body of water. I found myself being ferried around in a small boat in tidal waters between islands. Imagine a river that flows north one day at 4 knots. The next morning you return to the same place and ŝƚ͛ƐĨůŽǁŝŶŐƐŽƵƚŚĂƚϲ knots. Hugh whirlpools spun off rocks, sometimes reaching two hundred feet across and fifty feet in ĚĞƉƚŚ͘ŚĂŶŐĞǁĂƐĐŽŶƐƚĂŶƚ͘dŚĞ͞ƚĞƌƌĂŝŶ͟ŽĨƚŚĞ ocean and its currents was unpredictable because of the islands, underwater obstacles, and the weather. While the phases of the moon offered us a guideline in terms of the time of maximum flow, even max flow varied by a few knots depending on where you were. I could tell many stories from my eight seasons as a fishing guide, but what I want to do instead is flesh out a connection to missional leadership. We live in a time where the landscape has become fluid. What was once predictable and stable is now like the rapids I faced on most days of fishing. One day 4 knots south, the next day 6 knots north. The settled and predictable ways of Modernity and
Christendom have given way to plurality and fragmentation. Maps are amazing tools. They allow us to locate ourselves in relation to the landscape, using features and indicators that rarely change. In Modernity we used internal maps to orient to the culture and to find our way forward. Moreover, when we made mistakes we could reference our maps to step back and start again. That was then Ͷ this is now. ͞dƌƵƚŚŝƐƐƚƌĂŶŐĞƌƚŚĂŶŝƚƵƐĞĚƚŽďĞ͘͟Kďũectivity? Who has such a thing? And if we can locate truth, ǁŚŽŚĂƐƚŚĞĂƵƚŚŽƌŝƚǇƚŽƉƌŽĐůĂŝŵŝƚ͍tĞ͛ǀĞůŽƐƚƚƌƵƐƚ in our leaders, often for good reason. We emphasized charisma over character, and now far too many public leaders have their own good in view, and not the greater good. Turbulence has become the norm. The pace of change outstrips our ability to adjust. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter ʹ ƚŚĞƐĞƚŚŝŶŐƐĚŝĚŶ͛ƚĞǆŝƐƚƚĞŶǇĞĂƌƐ ago. Consider the iPod, iPad, YouTube and Google Earth. We have incredible tools but live with a deeper sense of fragmentation than ever. What we assumed were stable and enduring features have either disappeared or morphed so much that we no longer
Turbulence has become the norm. The pace of change outstrips our ability to adjust to it.
recognize them. Today context is king ʹ adaptive ƌĞƐƉŽŶƐĞƐŵƵƐƚďĞůŽĐĂů͘EŽǁŽŶĚĞƌ͞ĐŽŵŵƵŶŝƚǇ͟ has become a buzzword: more than ever we are looking for places.. a people.. to whom we can belong. What do we do when maps no longer describe the territory? How do we locate ourselves, and then find the way forward? Eddie Gibbs offered us the clue: when maps stop working, we train navigators. The Competencies of Navigation
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͞dŚĞŚƵƌĐŚŶĞĞĚƐŶĂǀŝŐĂƚŽƌƐƚƵŶĞĚƚŽƚŚĞǀŽŝĐĞŽĨ God, not map-‐readers. Navigational skills have to be learned on the high seas and in the midst of varying conditions produced by the wind, waves, currents, ĨŽŐďĂŶŬƐ͕ĚĂƌŬŶĞƐƐ͕ƐƚŽƌŵĐůŽƵĚƐĂŶĚƉĞƌŝůŽƵƐƌŽĐŬƐ͘͟ (Eddie Gibbs, Leadership Next, 66). Navigation is a significantly different skill than map reading. The points on a map are fixed, and when one wants to locate a point in the real world one simply locates oneself by correspondence to known geography or artifacts, and then proceeds step by step methodically to the next point. If you have a compass and a bit of logic, this is really, really easy. But navigation requires no fixed planetary points. Instead, one learns to read the sky ʹ the stars, really ʹ and orients by a point outside the world. This requires a sense of 3D space, and the ability to apply an imaginative framework to the real world. Map reading requires only logic and a table top. Any ten year old can master it then take a compass and use that knowledge with a high degree of confidence. Navigation, on the other hand, is a skill that is learned in the wilderness or on the ocean. It requires courage and the ability to withstand harsh conditions. And it requires something that is never required of map readers: faith and a fundamental inner quiet. When there are no physical points to locate ourselves, we rely on an internal compass. That internal compass is tuned not to earthly artifacts but to an external reference point ʹ the North Star. tĞĚŽŶ͛ƚƌĞĂůůǇŶĞĞĚŶĂǀŝŐĂƚŽƌƐŝŶƚŝŵĞƐŽĨĐƵůƚƵƌĂů stability. We need them desperately in seasons of transition. And as we might expect, we have great stories of navigators in the Old Testament. There were no maps for the people of Israel leaving Egypt, only a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
From Captivity to Freedom Israel had been in captivity for four hundred years ʹ enough time to learn some bad habits. But the root issue was personal: which God would they worship? Egyptian religion was man-‐made, offering predictable gods who could be manipulated. Religion puts us in control. We develop religious technologies so that we can actually avoid the encounter with a living God. The God of the Exodus, on the other hand, was ƵŶƚĂŵĞĚĂŶĚĚĞŵĂŶĚĞĚĐŽŵƉůĞƚĞůŽǇĂůƚǇ͘,ĞĚŝĚŶ͛ƚ offer Israel a game plan for the coming miles or the next forty years. Instead, he offered them his presence and Promise ʹ to go before them. Why not simply give them a map? There are at least two reasons. First, God himself wanted to be the way forward. He wanted a people radically dependent on His Spirit. Second, the process was as important as the ĚĞƐƚŝŶĂƚŝŽŶ͘'ŽĚǁĂƐŶ͛ƚũƵƐƚƉƌŽǀŝĚŝŶŐĚĞůŝǀĞƌĂŶĐĞ͘ ,ĞŝƐŶ͛ƚŽŶĐĂůůůŝŬĞĂƐƚĂŶĚŝŶŐĂƌŵǇ͘,Ğ͛s the king! He is forming a people for himself. Eric Hoffer gives us a hint toward the difference. ͞DŽƐĞƐǁĂŶƚĞĚƚŽƚƵƌŶĂƚƌŝďĞŽĨĞŶƐůĂǀĞĚ,ĞďƌĞǁƐ into free men. You would think that all he had to do was to gather the slaves and tell them that they were free. But Moses knew better. He knew that the transformation of slaves into free men was more difficult and painful than the transformation of free ŵĞŶŝŶƚŽƐůĂǀĞƐ͙͟ʹ diary entry, May 20, 1959
Map readers and navigators are actually two different kinds of people.
Map readers and navigators are actually two different kinds of people. While it is possible to make map readers into navigators, it is not easy, and some will never make the transition. Map readers as leaders make good managers; navigators as leaders are explorers. Map readers love stability; navigators © COPYRIGHT FORGE CANADA
enjoy the wilderness. Map readers are impatient with process; navigators enjoy the journey. Map-‐reading is a lonely vocation; navigators value company. Navigation is both an old skill and an ancient metaphor. John Climacus uses the Greek work kubernetes in the early seventh century Ladder of Divine Ascent. The word means pilot, helmsman, or guide, and he used it to speak of spiritual direction. When a ship is entering a harbor universal knowledge is no longer adequate, local knowledge becomes critical. The pilot comes alongside the captain and crew to guide them safely through unfamiliar waters, past hidden obstacles. Travelling in a straight line in unknown waters can get you killed.
would venture into the unpredictable waters of missional life we will need to embrace rhythms of solitude and community, gathering and dispersion. These rhythms have little reference to physical space or programs ʹ they are relational in nature. How do we begin to cultivate navigators? x x x x
Travelling off the Map x tŚĞŶDŽƐĞƐůĞĚ'ŽĚ͛ƐƉĞŽƉůĞŽƵƚŽĨŐǇƉƚŝƚǁŽƵůĚ be easy to imagine he was leading a journey from Point A to Point B. That simply was not the case. Moses was not really leading people at all; he was leading a process where God could form people in their hearts and imaginations into a people submitted to the Spirit. There are at least four reasons that map-‐reading is no longer an option. 1. the landscape has changed and become fluid 2. we live amidst competing narratives. The Christendom world is passing away and the Christian story no longer has a place of privilege. 3. the skills required to lead in transition are completely different than the skills required in a stable culture ϰ͘ǁĞŚĂǀĞƚŽůĞĂƌŶŶĞǁǁĂǇƐŽĨďĞŝŶŐ'ŽĚ͛ƐƉĞŽƉůĞ together and be re-‐formed internally /ĨǁĞĐĂŶ͛ƚĐŽƵŶƚŽŶŵĂƉƐĂŶĚƉƌĞĚŝĐƚĂďůĞƚĞƌƌĂŝŶ͕ tŚĞŶǁĞĐĂŶ͛ƚƉůĂŶƚŚĞǁĂǇĨŽƌǁĂƌĚ͘ƵƚŝƐƚŚŝƐĂ problem ʹ or an opportunity? We serve a God who ůŽǀĞƐŝƚǁŚĞŶǁĞĚĞƉĞŶĚŽŶŚŝŵ͘ŶĚŝĨǁĞĐĂŶ͛ƚ plan, we can prepare. Toss away the old maps; they are merely a distraction. We can form a new kind of leader ʹ navigators. EĂǀŝŐĂƚŽƌƐĚŽŶ͛ƚŚĂǀĞŵĂƉƐ͕ďƵƚƚŚĞǇĚŽŚĂǀĞƚŽŽůƐ͘ Navigators use the sextant. We can work with tools ĂŶĚĨƌĂŵĞǁŽƌŬƐƚŚĂƚŚĞůƉƵƐ͞ƌĞĂĚ͟ƚŚĞŽĐĞĂŶŽƌ read the sky. We can embrace ancient practices that root us more deeply in the shared life of Christ. If we
create a context where problems invoke possibilities find or create rituals than invoke memory (an internal location) initiate and convene conversations that shift peoples experience ʹ help people ask new questions and then give them new language value and affirm process, get comfortable with mystery value experimentation and risk, cultivate generosity listen and pay attention
God is active in our neighbourhoods and cities. If we learn to listen, and watch what he is up to we can partner with him, put up our sails in the wind and learn the dependent ways of the Navigator. The Prayer of St. Brendan, the Navigator
Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home? Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea? Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without fame, without honor? Shall I throw myself wholly upon you, without sword and shield, without food and drink, without a bed to lie on? Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?
O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea? O Christ, will You help on the wild waves?
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BOOKS Urban Ministry I found a couple of books in the mail yesterday: Hirsch, Untamed and Conn and Ortiz, Urban Ministry. Both of these look good, but the one I cracked first is the much larger and more dense ͞hƌďĂŶDŝŶŝƐƚƌǇ͘͟ dŚŝƐŝƐŶ͛ƚĂŶĞǁ title anymore, having been published about 2002. But it looks very goŽĚ͘/ƚ͛ƐĂƐĞŵŝŶĂƌǇƚĞǆƚƌĞĂůůǇ͕ƐŽŽŶ the academic side. But as you will often hear from me, the automatic connection some of us make between academic and impractical is just wrong-‐ ŚĞĂĚĞĚ͘/ƚ͛ƐƚƌƵĞƚŚĂƚůŝĨĞŝŶƚŚĞĂĐĂĚĞŵǇĐĂŶƌĞƐƵůƚŝŶ that kind of separation. But it is equally true, and perhaps true more often, that divorcing clear thinking and analysis from spiritual life and ministry has disastrous results.
city as place, as process, as center, as power, and as a place contrasting stability and change. They trace the history of the city around the world through four phases of development. The authors share a bias toward leadership. They are convinced that leadership development is absolutely necessary if we are going to impact our cities. Here are the chapters that comprise Part VI. 20. Contextual Traits of Leadership 21. Selecting Candidates for Urban Leadership Development 22. Curriculum for Developing Urban Leaders 23. Mentoring the Urban Leader 24. Equipping the Laity for Urban Ministry
Virtue Reborn After Alisdair MacIntyre (After Virtue) comes Virtue Reborn (UK title), or After You Believe.. and really glad to see Tom Wright take this one. Wright continues to widen the circle, drawing out the implications of a richer reading of Paul.
Anyway, to give you a sense of this opus it is divided in six parts. Part I: The City ʹ Past and Present Part II: Biblical perspectives Part III: Understanding the City Part IV: Developing Urban Church Growth Eyes Part V: Promoting Kingdom Signs in the City Part VI: Leadership and Discipleship for the Urban Church This looks like a very foundational piece of work, with careful research and theological reflection. Both of these men have reputations as scholars and practitioners. (Harvey Conn passed away in 1999 when the book was in the later stages of completion). Some of the facts in the background: two hundred ǇĞĂƌƐĂŐŽϯƉĞƌĐĞŶƚŽĨƚŚĞǁŽƌůĚ͛ƐƉŽƉƵůĂƚŝŽŶůŝǀĞĚŝŶ cities, now we are beyond 50%. Much of that population is very poor. Much of it is in the very largest cities. The authors unpack the nature of the
/ƚ͛ƐĂůƐŽŝŶƚĞƌĞƐƚŝŶŐƚŚĂƚƚŚĞĂŶƚŚƌŽƉŽůŽŐǇďĞŚŝŶĚĂůů this echoes the work of Vanier and Nouwen ʹ and ŵĂǇďĞŚĂƐƐŽŵĞƐŚĂĚŝŶŐŽĨǀŽŶĂůƚŚĂƐĂƌ͘/͛ŵ speculating here but all this work feels like a recovery of a sacramental perspective. Amos Yong general direction in his work on the Holy Spirit has been to ƚĂŬĞ/ƌĞŶĂĞƵƐƐĞƌŝŽƵƐůǇ͗͞ƚŚĞǁŽƌĚĂŶĚƚŚĞ^ƉŝƌŝƚĂƐ ƚŚĞƚǁŽŚĂŶĚƐŽĨƚŚĞ&ĂƚŚĞƌ͟ʹ and so push us away from the monistic Christology that seems all about Jesus and neglects the Trinitarian revelation of God and all the practical implications. But any anthropology that limits the Imago to word alone seems to result in a stilted soteriology, all event and © COPYRIGHT FORGE CANADA
no process, black and white and propositional. It puts us in control, rather than the untamed Spirit. Maybe this is partly why I like Newbigin Ͷ he understands ƚŚĂƚǁĞĐĂŶ͛ƚƐĞƉĂƌĂƚĞŵŝƐƐŝŽŶĂŶĚŵǇƐƚĞƌǇ͘/ŶThe Open Secret he writes, ͞dŚĞĐŽŶĐĞƌŶĨŽƌŵŝƐƐŝŽŶŝƐŶŽƚŚŝŶŐůĞƐƐƚŚĂŶƚŚŝƐ͗ƚŚĞ kingdom of God, the sovereign rule of the Father of Jesus over all humankind and over all creation. Mission.. is the proclamation of the kingdom, the presence of the kingdom and the prevenience of the kingdom. By proclaiming the reign of God over all things the church acts out its faith that the Father of Jesus is indeed ruler of all. The church, by inviting all humankind to share in the mystery of the presence of the kingdom hidden in its life through its union with the crucified and risen life of Jesus, acts out the love of Jesus that took him to the cross. By obediently following where the Spirit leads, often in ways neither planned, known, nor understood, the church acts out the hope that it is given by the presence of ƚŚĞ^ƉŝƌŝƚǁŚŽŝƐƚŚĞůŝǀŝŶŐĨŽƌĞƚĂƐƚĞŽĨƚŚĞŬŝŶŐĚŽŵ͘͟ (64)
By obediently following where the Spirit leads, often in ways neither planned, known, nor understood, the church acts out the hope that it is given by the presence of the Spirit who is the living foretaste of the ŬŝŶŐĚŽŵ͘͟
After You Believe pushes us again toward practices (In ƚŚŝƐǀĞŝŶƐĞĞdŽĚĚ,ƵŶƚĞƌ͛ƐůĂƚĞƐƚ͗Giving Church Another Chance (IVP, 2010) as well as the project from the Wheaton Conference, Life in the Spirit (IVP Academic, 2010). Many churches have vision statements; but too often they are motherhood clauses. What do people actually practice? In the end what we practice will not merely inform us but transform us, shape us into the people God is forming for himself.
other; and that we do this not least by "following Jesus." The way this works out is that it produces, through the work of the Holy Spirit, a transformation of character which functions as the Christian version of what philosophers have called "virtue." This transformation will mean that we do indeed "keep the rules" -‐ though not out of a sense of externally imposed "duty," but out of the character that has been formed within us. And it will mean that we do include "follow our hearts" and live "authentically" -‐ but only when, with that transformed character fully operative -‐ like an airline pilot with a lifetime's experience -‐ the hard work up front bears fruit in spontaneous decisions and actions that reflect what has been formed deep within. And, in the wider world, the challenge we face is to grow and develop a fresh generation of leaders, in all walks of life, whose character has been formed in wisdom and public service, not greed for money or power. The heart of it -‐ the central thing that is supposed to happen after you believe, the thing we call a virtue in a new, reborn sense -‐ is thus the transformation of character. (Virtue Reborn, 24) [emphasis added] There is a single thing that puzzles me as I pondered ƚŚĞĨŝƌƐƚĨĞǁĐŚĂƉƚĞƌƐ͘/ƚĚŽĞƐŶ͛ƚƐĞĞŵƚŚĂƚtƌŝŐŚƚŝƐ in conversation with any of the prominent North ŵĞƌŝĐĂŶƚŚŝŶŬĞƌƐŽŶƚŚĞƐĞŝƐƐƵĞƐ͘/ĐŽƵůĚŶ͛ƚĨŝŶĚĂŶǇ reflection of the work of Dallas Willard, for example. And the book would have been stronger for a it. No matter, another worthy contribution from the UK and our Anglican friends. From the HarperCollins blurb:
Wright dispels the common misconception that Christian living is nothing more than a checklist of dos and don'ts. Nor is it a prescription to "follow your heart" wherever it may lead. Instead, After You Believe reveals the Bible's call for a revolutionͶa transformation of character that takes us beyond our earthly pursuit of money, sex, and power into a virtuous state of living that allows us to reflect God and live more worshipful, fulfilling lives.
The fundamental answer we shall explore in this book is that what we are "here for" is to become genuine human beings, reflecting the God in whose image we are made, and doing so in worship on the one hand and in mission, in its full and large sense, on the © COPYRIGHT FORGE CANADA
INTERVIEW FORGE Canada: Cam Roxburgh
Q. Tell us the story of Southside. When was it born and what was the shaping imagination? Southside was launched in the summer of 1992. A core of us began to dream about what church could look like if we moved into a neighbourhood and began to try and make a difference. We had inherited a building, but we adopted a neighbourhood. Or perhaps we might say we were adopted by a neighbourhood. We were young, and naive in many ways, but through some wise counsel, really threw ourselves into serving the people in the neighbourhood and it made all of the difference. We spent the first 6 months really just trying to live in that place. We participated in neighbourhood events, served the neighbourhood, got involved in community teams and councils, shopped there and began to get to know the neighbours. We looked for ways that we could make a difference and when people witnessed what was going on, they wanted to become a part of what we were doing. There was a lot of energy, but it seemed as if we were tireless. It was hard not to just get excited as we had front row seats to God transforming lives. Q. Tell us about the context.. what is the texture of the neighborhood and how has it shaped Southside? Southside began in a poor neighbourhood of Burnaby BC... and I will be forever grateful. Many of us had middle class backgrounds and so this was a new environment. It shaped us. It was not unusual to be approached by prostitutes as we went to our offices in the church. Many mornings we would find either people sleeping on the steps of the church, or evidence of "parties" on the church property from the night before. Needles and condoms were a regular sight in the parking lot. When we started, there were probably 25% of the neighbourhood as
single moms and at least that many on welfare. Food banks were local, and the issue of transiency was very prominent. We now have 4 congregations, but they all have a DNA of caring for the poor because of where we started. I am convinced that if we had started in the suburbs, we would never have gone towards the city. Q. According to Luke 10 the Spirit goes before us in mission. That means that we go out as listeners and watchers. How important has this role of discernment been in the life of the community? In fairness, I think we started that way... not necessarily because we were deeply spiritual, but because we didn't know what else to do. This passage and this approach has always been important, but for sure there are times when we rely more on our own experience, than we do on the presence and power of the Spirit. There has not been a lot of fruit from that approach. Even the question is a good reminder for us to be reminded of that which has been important to us. Q. How did the context shape the mission, and the mission the church? I mentioned this a little above. Being in a lower class urban setting to start was a huge influence on both the desire to see neighbourhood transformation as we did in Edmonds in those early days, and to care for the poor. All four of our congregations have this as a part of their DNA at present. This neighbourhood emphasis and the care of the poor has been a huge influence in shaping who we are as a people. We continue to seek integral mission -‐ a both/and approach -‐ through social justice and through proclamation. I think we could agree with Alan Hirsch who says that for incarnational living we seek to use proclamation, presence, proximity and to minister from a position of powerlessness. Q. Are there particular events that have been critical in the life of the community in its early years? More recently? Lots and lots of events. There are a few that stand out though. Early on we began to throw neighbourhood parties. At first we called it the Big Pig Gig (later changed it to A Taste of Edmonds). Through the years this grew to having up to 4000 people participate on the day. It was a huge factor in us © COPYRIGHT FORGE CANADA
enjoying the favour of the people of the neighbourhood. I think Church Retreats have been crucial for us as well. We have had 80% of our people go away for the weekend and celebrate what God has done in our midst over the past year. There was also a very crucial elders retreat where we made some decisions about our values in 2001 that has deeply shaped who we are. Unfortunately I think there are some events on the negative side of the coin as well. Several of these sad times in our life together have brought deep pain, but we continue to believe that God can use all things for his glory. Q. What does leadership look like at Southside? How do you make decisions? Do you have a process of communal discernment? It is simple on one level. We have one elders team who lead the vision and oversee the spiritual development of the church. However, each Congregation have a leadership team made up of the Mission Group Leaders who inform the elders as to what is happening in their congregation. Each congregation has a number of Mission Groups that have leaders who Pastor the people. So although we are one church, with one elders team, we continually are trying to raise up Mission Group Leaders to lead the people. I suppose the model of the Israelites presented to Moses by his father in law Jethro has been a shaping model for us. Q. Have your leadership structures evolved as you multiplied communities? How did that shift impact back on the way you organize the inner life of the community? In one sense it changed in that where when we were one congregation our elders were the leaders of that congregation, and now that we are four, the elders oversee four leadership teams -‐ there is another level. However, the structure really hasn't changed. We have always believed that leaders are there to equip and that the basic leadership of the church happens in and through the Mission Group. This is the key building block for us. Q. What special skills and capacities have you had to develop that were perhaps latent to be effective in mission? By far the biggest is in the area of leadership ĚĞǀĞůŽƉŵĞŶƚ͘/ŶƚŽĚĂǇ͛ƐĐŽŶƚĞǆƚ͕ĚĞǀĞůŽƉŝŶŐůĞĂĚĞƌƐ who see themselves as Pastors is crucial. Our Mission
Group Leaders need to understand that they are the Pastors of their groups of 10-‐12, and therefore carry the responsibility and the privilege of ministering to these people and to their neighbours. They are to be the equippers for mission for their groups. Of course they are resourced by staff and other levels of leadership, but the foundational model of Southside has always been that we are trying to get away from the "professionals" doing allof the ministry. On the next level then, when our Mission Group Leaders are doing well and multiplying their group, they have the potential to grow into Congregational Leaders. Early on we found that when we were hiring people who had come from seminary, we often had to try and help them to make the switch from more of a maintenance model, towards a more missional mindset. It seemed easier to us to begin to develop our own leaders in many ways. In light of this, there was a need to develop another level of leadership training where we began to take next generation leaders through a two year process to equip them to lead congregations. This was theologically based, but very practical in its nature. The leaders were deeply involved in the life of the church as a part of their training, and not just sent away to seminary for three years. This is really where Forge Canada got its start. We had a need for training missional congregational and mission group leaders. Q. What role does preaching/teaching play in the life of the community? How do you get beyond the formation/information duality? What about the laity/clergy duality? Preaching is important for sure. We have had the privilege of having some excellent preachers both visit and be on staff during our history. At present, the preaching is really a part of a learning and equipping process that looks like this... First, each member will be given a study guide on Wednesday at Mission group. Beginning Thursday morning, they are able to use this for their own personal devotions. They are immersed in the text and taught to listen to the Holy Spirit, to hear what God is saying to them and to the church. By Sunday they will have had several days to get familiar with the text, to see it in context of all the scriptures and then to listen to God. On Sunday, someone preaches and does hopefully a good exegetical job of the © COPYRIGHT FORGE CANADA
passage, to make sure that what people are hearing from God is consistent with the text. Then from Monday to Wednesday they resume both their personal devotions as well as are involved in discipling relationships, so that when the group meets on Wednesday night, each person has a contribution to bring. They each bring what they believe God has said to them...and because of the preaching and study guide, it should be informed. Then the group discerns what God has said, and makes practical application together. In this way we keep trying to teach that there is no clergy/laity distinction, but rather just a variety of gifts to serve the body. Q. Community and mission exist in a rhythm of inward and outward movement. As Jim Wallis once ƉƵƚŝƚ͕͞tŝƚŚŽƵƚŶƵƌƚƵƌĞ͕ĂĐŽŵŵƵŶŝƚǇǁŝůůĞǆŚĂƵƐƚ itself in pursuit of a vision. Without vision, a community will become stuck in self-‐preoccupation and will travel in circles. With only vision a ĐŽŵŵƵŶŝƚǇƐŽŽŶůŽƐĞƐĂŶǇƌĞĂůƐĞŶƐĞŽĨůŽǀĞ͘͟ How have you worked at keeping the balance? Wow. Deep and difficult question. Jim's quote is helpful to say the least. I think it is fair to say that we functioned in a much healthier fashion in the earlier years of the church. Lately, we have not done as well. Some pain in the church has offset the balance, or the smooth functioning of both of these in our life together. The picture that comes to mind is that of a teeter-‐totter. When it functions well with the weight distributed evenly, it really can be a lot of fun. When too much weight, or too much force is applied in one direction, it can be a rocky ride. There are times when balance is important, but I think more than balance, it has to do with seasons. Sometimes vision needs to lead so that the teeter-‐totter will swing in one direction, and at other times nurture needs to lead the way. A couple of years ago we received such a push towards the need for nurture, that it was almost as if vision went sailing off of its end of the teeter-‐totter. It was hanging on for dear life. We have tried to provide enough nurture to bring healing to the pain in these last few years, with the recognition that one way to restore "balance" is to refocus on vision. This is difficult for sure. Too much vision when nurture is needed, will just cause a massive move the other way and then we may not recover at all. I would say that we have focused on better communication, more
times of community (hopefully that is life giving) and then slowly to re-‐engage at the vision of seeing neighbourhoods transformed. Q. Are there special disciplines that keep you "awake" to God? Do you exist in any practical sense ĂƐĂ͞ĐŽǀĞŶĂŶƚ͟ĐŽŵŵƵŶŝƚǇ͍ Great question... simple answer. We are a covenant community with 5 practices that we engage in. Each one is shaped by our values. We engage in morning and evening prayer. We have daily reading in scripture. We practice the sabbath weekly and allow this to shape some space each day. We commit to meeting face to face with our neighbours each week and to blessing some one in the church on a daily basis. These five are a part of the fiber of who we are. Q. What is the relationship of Southside to the larger body of Christ in Vancouver? What does this look like in practice? In the past we have played a big part in trying to bring unity to the church in Vancouver. In each of our 4 congregations, we have either participated or led the ministerials. This has been more about churches working together and praying together to see neighbourhood transformation than it has been about pastors just meeting. However in the past few years as our church has been through much pain, we have pulled away from leading, but are still trying to be as supportive as we can be. God is at work in bringing churches together for the purpose of mission. We couldn't be more excited about that. Q. Nothing stays the same for long. As the neighbourhood has changed, how has Southside maintained its missional edge? We are now 17 years old. The inner city of Burnaby where we started, is now becoming a very middle class and commuter based urban centre. There is much change happening. It has also become a very multicultural place. Our gatherings look different and our efforts to serve the community are changing. We have entered again into a process of discernment in Burnaby to see how we might best participate in the mission of God in that place. The question is excellent, I think we are just not yet prepared to give a complete answer. Check back in a year from now. © COPYRIGHT FORGE CANADA
Q. In the West we have measured success by numbers and dollars and buildings. Have you faced that pressure, and if so what metrics do you use or what Scriptures help you evaluate your call? Stories, stories, stories. It is about faithfulness and not success. However, I think it is also fair to say that we had better ask hard questions of ourselves if we are not seeing transformation in peoples lives and in the neighbourhood. The past few years we have not grown numerically and yet we have been faithful in a number of areas. Our ministry has not been without fruit. So, it is not all doom and gloom. Yet, we are asking questions of why we are not seeing the conversion of our friends as we have desire for. Q. Jim Wallis wrote, ͞dŚĞŐƌĞĂƚƚƌĂŐĞĚǇŽĨŵŽĚĞƌŶ evangelism is in calling many to belief but few to ŽďĞĚŝĞŶĐĞ͕͟ĂŶĚ͕͞ŶŝŶĚŝǀŝĚƵĂůŝƐƚŝĐƵŶĚĞƌƐƚĂŶĚŝŶŐŽĨ the Gospel carries the danger of making salvation into another commodity that can be consumed for personal fulfilment and self-‐ŝŶƚĞƌĞƐƚ͘͟,ŽǁŚĂƐ Southside resisted these cultural temptations? For two years we have asked the question over and ŽǀĞƌĂŶĚŽǀĞƌĂŐĂŝŶ͘͘͘͞ǁŚĂƚĂƌĞǁĞĚŽŝŶŐƚŚĂƚŝƐ inadvertently producing consumers and not ŵŝƐƐŝŽŶĂƌŝĞƐ͍͟tĞĂƌĞƚƌǇŝŶŐƚŽůŝǀĞŝŶƚŚe power of the Spirit and not compromise on the biblical call to make disciples. We want to produce people who know their identity in Christ, desire to be obedient to him in all ways, and to follow him in mission. There are times when we make mistakes, and times that even when we get it right, people walk away because they find the call too difficult. Lots have come and loved what we stand for, but left when they see that we are serious and hold each other accountable. There are times when we are tempted to focus on growing numerically at the expense of what we feel would be compromise. But the words of Gordon Crosby (Church of the Saviour in Washington DC) ring as loudly in my ears today as when he spoke them to me 11 years ago. "Never compromise from the vision that God has given you." I want to make sure that we are not putting any roadblocks in the way... but that we are completely faithful to what God has called us too. God promised that we will find that difficult.
³3URFODLPLQJWKH*Rspel Afresh: Developing a 0L[HG(FRQRP\&KXUFK´ What will the church of the future look like? Not like ƚŚĞĐŚƵƌĐŚŽĨƚŚĞϭϵϱϬ͛ƐͶŽƌƚŚĞϭϴϱϬ͛ƐͶƚŚĂƚ͛ƐĨŽƌ sure! The end of Christendom guarantees that. The annual Vital Church Planting conference is becoming a venue where some of the most creative and entrepreneurial leaders of our churchͶbishops, clergy and lay leaders from across the countryͶare gathering to network, learn, pray, and strategize together. After three years hosted in Toronto, we are looking forward to our first VCP West to be held in Edmonton this May.
Vital Church Planting ʹ Edmonton May 18-‐‑20 http://www.vitalchurchplanting.com/
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