Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The concept of "doing things differently" is not popular in most churches, in fact it is bordering on the heretical. Anyone attempting to launch out into Church planting Movements, or having a stab at Training4Trainers will quickly realise that this approach demands a fairly significant shift in thoughts and actions. Even this is a process which can be implemented as given, but the key I suspect will be the small but significant tweaks which will be made according to the individual context.

The little churches we have planted are full of keen, enthusiastic and excited-about-Jesus people; thrilled to be meeting every week to be trained so that they can share with others, and loving every minute of our times together. We are around eight weeks in, so in my typical orderly fashion I would expect us to be reaching week eight in the training manual, or at least week seven, and surely week six. Reality -  week four, two, and "haven't actually got the initial stuff straight yet"!

There seem to be two main reasons. Some people simply live chaotic, drama-filled lives, so the chance of doing anything with a large degree of regularity is fairly remote.For others, especially those of Maori or Pacific Island backgrounds, family takes priority - and frequently we turn up for a group to find other people there before us!

So, we have a problem - every Tuesday at 3.30pm may not work - so how do we learn to do things differently? Well perhaps we start by seeing not a problem, but an opportunity - how can the love and life of Jesus flow into the chaos of some people's lives, bringing not an orderliness which would alienate our new friends from their community, but rather a sense of the presence of Jesus in the midst of the storm? How do Jesus' new followers introduce him into the hospital, family dispute, drunken brawl or the latest local tragedy? And can we view the "invading" family not as a rival or competition for group time, but as a great way for people to share their own and God's stories naturally?

We have much to learn, and I think that is how it is going to be for a long, long time!

Monday, May 7, 2012

I'll just sleep awhile

I love the story Jesus tells in Mark 4:26-29 of the farmer who sows seed, then basically ignores it! Whether he sleeps, watches TV, plays cricket or keeps himself busy, "the seed sprouts and grows...all by itself." This past week I have been in and around Dunedin (South Island for those who don't know - this is after all an international blog!) so of course all progress has come to a complete standstill in our little Church Planting Movement.

 Okay, that isn't entirely true. Monika, John and Heidi have been continuing with the four embryonic churches we have running in homes, as well as all the follow up. But not much more. Except that when they re-visited a Fijian lady and her partner they were really keen to host a training group and invite friends and family, so I suppose that's mini-church number five launching on Friday. Then there is the young Samoan guy who invited one of his friends to their group, and his friend committed his life to Jesus - our first spiritual grand-child. How cool to see a teenager leading his friend to faith in Jesus, just wish I'd been there...

 There's something disturbing about a church being planted in my absence. I'm the trained and commissioned (Church Army) evangelist don't you know? Three years full time training, years of experience, a licence from every Bishop in New Zealand...seem to count for very little these days! The farmer in Jesus' story observes the growth taking place "though he does not know how." That makes two of us! Though I am wondering if I should go away more often - perhaps a return to Dunedin in the spring to launch a Church Planting Movement down there?