I want to catch you up on some of the learning we’ve been doing around this journey of joining God. I am seeing a strong push by the Spirit for congregations to re-engage with the mission of God and reimagine church from the ground up. This is happening. I am greatly encouraged by the hope-filled experiences of people in congregations who have courageously jumped in and started asking questions like “who are our neighbours”, “what are their stories”, “what might God be trying to tell us through the stories of people who might not be ‘one of us’”.
We are working across many congregations with the practices introduced in Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World and learning a whole lot. It’s clear that, while the practices are simple, the journey calls for significant transformations in the habits of congregations. People are eager to try but discover it’s a bigger challenge than they anticipated.
We have experienced, time and time again, that there still exists a big wall between the life of church members together and the life of the neighbourhood. There is little imagination for how to build relational bridges between the two as evidenced in the continued question: “What has Joining God got to do with my church?” In addition, there is a disconnect between God as the core of a congregation’s worship life and God as the primary shaper of life in the neighbourhood.
More and more pastors are asking, “How do I help my people step into a new imagination of what it means to be church?” but they are still busy running the institution and don’t need one more program to add to their plates. And yet, they want to equip and walk with their people to take some steps in naming what God is already doing in the world and join in.
A common responses to my book is: “yes, but how do we do this?” We know that activities need to be simple, commitments need to be clear and whatever is done needs to fit the existing rhythms of congregational life. To that end, we are framing some simple actions such as: listening without agendas, being a people of relationship rather than outcomes, sharing the stories of people in the neighbourhood and, through it all, discovering what the Spirit might be saying to us.
Out of years of listening and learning with leaders and congregations we are shaping resources out of what we’ve learned. Building Bridges is a simple resource for leaders looking for a place to begin in walking with their people to uncover how the Spirit is inviting them to participate in joining God, remaking the church, and changing the world.
I am seeing a movement of the Spirit, a ferment among God’s people. But leaders still struggle with how to shape this movement in their congregations. This one-page overview of Building Bridges is, I believe, a way to begin.