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A Picture of a Vibrant Church in the U.S. in 2030, Part 5 of 7: Life-Giving Networks

No one gets there on their own!

This was the common theme a decade ago when leaders and congregations started charting new, hope-filled courses toward 2030. 

  • They knew the stakes were high. 
  • They knew the sense of loss of the treasured, the familiar, would be overwhelming at times in congregations.
  • They knew that they didn’t know! But they were willing to try, and to trust, the Holy Spirit to guide and empower.

They named it. The United States was a vast unreached mission field with remnants of a churched world that once existed.   

They named it. Vast unreached mission fields need missionaries. 

They named it. They were the missionaries. They’d always known they were, should be, but had never been discipled, to be.

  • Comfortably living among the people.  
  • Listening to their life stories…and longings.   
  • Blessing them.  
  • Bringing Jesus to them.  

These leaders actually surprised themselves once they began to include risk and adventure—and a trust in the Spirit of God—into the everyday rhythms of life.  

Leaders recognized a decade earlier that they lacked the knowledge, resources, skills, simple resiliency, and the networks to get from here to there.

Networks were formed. Life-giving ecosystems formed. Like organic energy grids…mission grids…resources were delivered to ordinary people…ordinary groups on mission. 

Ordinary people, the baptized people of God, accustomed to being served by professional clergy, began to rise up as partners. They assumed their rightful roles as the representatives of Jesus in their own mission fields. They stopped complaining that there weren’t enough good leaders. And, amazingly, they began to take responsibility for a different future for the Church in the United States.

They looked for the networks. Created the networks. Identified what was needed. Connected to sources of hope.

Denominational systems in many ways tried to play this role. Gifted, godly people tried to play these roles, but the system naturally resisted change and tilted toward trying to preserve a past that no longer existed. Naturally tilted toward preservation and control…not resource.   

These fluid networks that emerged…

  • Offered support and accountability.
  • Fostered a confidence in the Spirit.
  • Encouraged risk and adventure.
  • Anchored leaders in the Word of God.
  • Offered resources. 

Some of the other shifts toward a vital 2030 noted in earlier blogs had been bone jarring for congregational leaders a decade ago:

But networks, life-giving ecosystems, simply made sense. Hungry leaders sought them out like the roots of a tree searching for water in a dry land. 

A decade ago, at every level, people asked: Where are the leaders who can lead us forward?  Slowly at first, but one by one, they recognized that they’d forgotten how to disciple people like Jesus discipled people, like the Apostle Paul discipled people. Leaders were missing because discipleship had been missing. Relational discipleship was the hinge the door to the future hung on.

So, around the leadership table at your church…

  • This week, smile. Take a breath. The last few weeks have been challenging topics.  Right? This one is good news. You won’t get there by yourself. You’re tempted to surrender. Some of the leaders around your table, maybe all of you, are going to be like Moses on Mount Nebo…leading people through this wilderness toward a promised future land for the church in the U.S., but you won’t step into the new land.  
  • 3 questions:
    • What resources would you need from a network described above to make this journey?
    • As a group… is it worth the journey? Is it worth trying? Worth trusting?
    • What would keep you from getting started in the Discipleship to Missional Community learning community in January 2020? or October 2020? Raechel can answer your questions and provide expert counsel. 

Gail and Jock Ficken

ALSO… Our international team leaves on Saturday for Liberia. Please join us in praying for them.  

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