Next month as a part of our Fresh Hope Collective we will launch our focus/theme for the 2016/17 year – ‘Beyond the Harbour’.  

I hope you sense that culturally our nation is facing extraordinary changes and challenges, most likely to impact our way of life and our capacity as Christians to offer the life of Christ to a hurting world. Personally I cannot remember a time in our recent history, where social re-construction, political posturing, community fragmentation and loss of hope has been so rife. I am taken back to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians where we read this wonderful and beautiful fulcrum as a poignant reminder and compass point.

‘He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. 
At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.
The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.
The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.’  
– Eph 1: 22-23

I suspect that going beyond the harbour requires an urgent recalibration of our mindset, praxis and resources. I wonder what it means for the world to be peripheral to the church? Perhaps this is a timely conversation for your leadership community? Perhaps we have devalued the important strategic status and mission of the church in culture and society? Perhaps we need a new impetus and motivation to leave behind the safe constraints of the harbour, venturing forth into unknown seas of extraordinary change? Perhaps we need outstanding faith and courage, centred on Christ, focused by the Word and fuelled by the Spirit to explore new opportunities for mission and cultural engagement?

True courage begins with an honest appraisal of reality. True courage is birthed passionately in a crucible of change and opportunity. I so pray that you and I have the courage to assess our current predicament and lead our faith communities beyond the tried and tested ‘norms’ of the past. I have never been more convicted and excited in this season of tumultuous change. May we earnestly pray that we might be sent into this world, beyond the harbour, to be salt and light to a hurting world. We are ready to help encourage and champion you as you seek to embark upon a journey that might well challenge and change us all. May God give us wisdom and strength.

Andrew Ball