Back in 2007, the seeds of my long-term hope/vision was sown in my heart through a dream! I recorded it on my blog at the time, and have revisited it several times. That dream, like a seed, has been hidden underground, awaiting the right soil, temperature and conditions to begin to raise its head out of the ground. It gives context to some of the things I’ve started to put in place in recent months as our circumstances move us towards a different future. The thing that strikes me is that, since that initial vision in 2007, I’ve had so many experiences of part of it…so many tastes of it, and so many learning moments that have given me fresh understanding of that initial vision.
Back in 2007, new-monasticism, simple missional church, and had no knowledge of teh celtic-style mission endeavours by the monks of, say, Lindisfarne. Those things were not in my sights, I’d never heard of the concepts. And yet, as I reflect on that early vision, I’m struck that what I saw encompasses so many of those ideas. Here is what I saw:
– disciples living a missional life together in a geographical area, committed to prayer, mission, discipleship and active engagement in communities
– an urban presence, a shop-front type idea, open as a community hub with simple lounge, kettle on, a creative prayer space, a meeting space. Someone available here for drop-in to happen, but also functioning as a base for some detached workers engaging in the streets with people.
– this, in essence, wasn’t going produce an institutional church – it was going to be what could best be described as a mission station. It would certainly create communities for people to belong to, but it would seek to avoid church ruts by keeping mobile and keeping things light. Its ‘missioners’, for want of a better word, may even be engaged with other church communities, but we part of this mission to advance God’s Kingdom, particularly amongst the poor and marginalised.
Reflecting on all that now, the language I’d put to it would be that of ‘missional order’ – people signed up to live out rhythms of mission and prayer, not being content to simply play the game of church survival, but pioneering new forms of engagement with the world in the way that the Fransiscan Friars did, or, indeed, how the early Salvationists did before falling down the church pit. Maybe even similar to what ‘Eden’ have done amongst youth culture in some of our cities. Very much in partnership with the church, but also seeking to renew it by giving it a new vision of how it could be.
Reflecting on it all, I often consider how much easier it would be just to forget about it and take another pastor job…but I’ve been doing that now, rather restlessly, for nearly 10 years and I know I must take the step. I know I won’t rest until I can do this thing that God has been stirring inside me for so long. I want to give my blog-reading friends firm permission to stop me from settling for less again.
I don’t feel very courageous, many times I doubt myself and this irresistible call, but as my kids keep telling me, you do only live once. It all sounds rather grand, but I want to begin to flesh out a dream of a particular kind of missional community, standing on the shoulders of giants, but entering into a new land for a time such as this.