Pioneering & Mission – I still believe
It has been 6 months since we put the flag in the ground at Collective for another pioneering push, inviting us to imitate the passion for Kingdom innovation that our forebears in Churches of Christ had.
Our culture and its media are promoting: No longer is the church a place of relevance, refuge, safety, growth or spaciousness. No longer is the church the prophetic voice in the wilderness calling into the way of salvation and the Kingdom. Their message suggests that the modern church is styled as irrelevant, unsafe, anxious and itself in need of conversion into the rationalism of the secular way. While having echoes of truth, this styled narrative brings falseness. Like all effective lies they are hinged on partial degrees of truth. A core emerging problem, and one reason for the effectiveness of the lies, is not so much in the functions of church as containers of truth, but the almost singular forms or methods expressed.
‘Success’ is another metric potentially stimulating unhealthy outcomes. The internal success metrics have tended to focus on attendance and performance rather than character and transformation, resulting in burnout and higher turn-overs for those called to ministry. The external success metrics have been more about events and programs to the detriment of the strategic engagement of the Gospel towards culture. Our priestly-laity divide sometimes remains. Parts of the church have not dealt well with sexual immorality within our ranks. I’d like to suggest we have become familiar with a narrow form of being the bride of Christ, we are highly resistant to change, and we are indeed often anxious about the future.
The current season begs interpretation! How do we, God’s ambassadors, understand these times? Our response, formulated as insightful articulation, helps clarify and answer some of these questions. Now is the time for God’s brave leaders to again rise, as the church in our context faces dislocation, in a season of wilderness and combativeness.
I believe there is a timeless truth concerning the functions of the church, which we understand from the Scriptures. We know that the world is peripheral to the church. The Kingdom of God is advancing; the gates of Hell will not overcome it. The church is God’s vessel for delivering the message of His Kingdom will and agenda on earth. The church is the Bride of Christ, a people washed and radiant, and He still walks alongside His bride. The church is the hope of the world, God’s designed community for offering grace and love.
Our focus in Fresh Hope Pioneering is centred on glorifying God by enjoying Him through new pioneering opportunities. We seek to nullify the lies of the enemy by courageously re-asserting our mandate as the agency of hope in a darkening world that Jesus would declare He has overcome. We all play a crucial part in the body of Christ as we seek to discern the next move of God in our context. Our desire is to fulfil our part in the calling with faith, hope and love to address the unfolding nihilistic mindset of our age. I believe the church today isn’t as ‘on the nose’ to the world as is often narrated. Two separate missional opportunities of late have reinforced this for me; 1) when a few of us took over a local business in Rhodes for a day to offer the staff rest and 2) A conversation I had with a local school about afterschool care and the prevalence of mental health and anxiety in our young ones. In both cases the presence of God’s people was in a posture of restoration in action.
I believe the creation and multiplication of new Kingdom communities and pioneering expressions that strategically respond to these times is absolutely critical. We are moving towards new outposts, signposts and satellites that stimulate creativity within the Fresh Hope family. We currently have 5 newish pioneering outposts, and 3 outpost explorations (and that’s just the ones we know of). And these haven’t been easy to begin and continue. As newly formed shoots, challenges and ‘perceived’ failures abound. Missed opportunities, opposition, misunderstanding, spiritual warfare, sickness, loss of members to other initiatives, loss of locations, uncertainty, wilderness and dry times!
But in it all the resolve is; we must have a go!! It is certainly difficult work; but again, it is critical we explore and risk. We know we are weak vessels, but He has promised us His Peace, Presence and Power to achieve His mission in this world. I believe God is calling His Sons and Daughters to again make the best use of the times, because the days are evil; to bring light to the darkness in our world as our pioneering forbears did in their day. As we stand on the shoulders of these men and women of valour, I believe we honour their walk and work by being in our day what they were in theirs; fragrant offerings for the good news of the Kingdom of God!
I invite you into a continuing conversation around pioneering and mission opportunities in your local communities. Fresh Hope is keen to companion local churches who are creating opportunities to pioneering the kingdom activities.
Ministry Leader – Fresh Hope Pioneering and Mission