Photo: Five participants have embarked on this year’s Frontier experience, which launched last month.

By Nathan Marshall

There are moments of sheer grace; gifts that are given and received with ease and delight. The burden seems easy, the road seems lear and the prevailing conditions work in our favour. Like a four-year-old catching a kingfish with a line on a stick with no bait. Or a God-given gap in a seemingly otherwise impossible situation. There are also times, perhaps more often than we wish, where it’s a slog. Ministry is difficult. Family life is complex and at times blindsiding. These are the times when we must discern: to push or to hold, to fight, or to let go? Wisdom is needed in seasons of difficulty, trusting the Spirit’s leading when the path seems unclear.

Pioneering has stepped into its second year of Frontier, our incubator for those who are stirred and called to “… creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the Church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community.”

In February, we had one participant locked in, and a few disparate leads. It was a moment where we had to ask, “God, what are you up to here?!” Something galvanized in our spirits and hearts, leading us to attend to both the sheer grace of God and the hard work of unearthing those who might sense the risky and divine invitation to pioneer for the Kingdom. What has unfolded is nothing short of miraculous.

Daz Farrell had held the Pioneering post in these recent years, sensing and praying for a ‘multiethnic’ work of the Spirit to occur with emerging leaders.

His tagline was ‘Have a go, go deeper, deepen the mix’, and with this hope, it’s exciting to share that five people have taken the call to ‘go pioneer’ this year, with three from different ethnic backgrounds.

This has created a rich and diverse group, with our initial gathering kicking off at the end of the ‘La Nina’ rain event in late March. We brought together complete strangers for a slow but steep descent into community, story-sharing, Frontier-framing, and solitude, as our hearts were stirred, and our paradigms stretched.

As the swollen Wingecarribee River flowed powerfully where we gathered, we were guided by Scripture and the Spirit, reminded that “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:5).

Perhaps this is a timely reminder that difficulty and grace are not unknown to one another. Our coming together took tremendous effort and our sharing was woven with grief and struggle, yet the richness of our fellowship created a true sense of ‘communitas’.

The gift of this initial gathering is not to create clever strategies or work on the latest innovative techniques, but instead to have our hearts come alive to what we might imagine that God is inviting us into for this pioneering journey.

Brueggeman, in his book The Prophetic Imagination, reminds us, “Our culture is competent to implement almost anything and imagine almost nothing.”

This is always a timely reminder that we join in and with God’s activity, following Jesus into the thick of life in all its mess and beauty.

Our first teaching time kicked off this week with Karina Kreminski, author of Urban Spirituality, wrestling with the cruciform call to be embodied in our pioneering work. We look forward to what will sprout from this fertile soil, trusting that, ‘We plant the seeds that one day will grow.’

Read more stories of Fresh Hope HERE.