I recently experienced a moment of deep hope, and want to capture it, if I can.
Around a table with pioneer leaders and their support team, we watched as the fruit of years of building relationships exploded with bountiful life.
A situation of lifelessness, disappointment, and abandonment has become over two years an opportunity for flourishing for the pioneer worker, the realm of God, the community. By partnering with a church of another denomination the mission of the church, rather than the empire of a denomination, will grow. By partnering locally, support will be more readily available to affirm and enable this innovative minister on what can be a lonely edge of the church. With a visit from one of the residents of the community, we heard first hand how relationship through this pioneer has healed a broken spirit, and taught this person to care again.
What else does God ask of us than this?
I felt privileged to be around that table, to experience the joy of possibility, witness the creativity and compassion of this pioneer leader, and share in the gratitude and excitement for the transformation of this work from disappointment to hope.
Entrepreneurs are being nurtured and empowered through our other pioneer, and we celebrated the 'graduation' of one business from the incubator, its operator ready to grow further, and explore new opportunities. Through relationship the entrepreneurs are not only empowered in their business development, but as humans, through pastoral care, opportunities nurture spirituality and wholeness through connection with faith community in various ways. This pioneer, as as so many pioneers, is an entrepreneur also, and with art and craft is participating in relationships, community, advocacy, to help people find confidence, new skills, wholeness, peace; to give voice to the voiceless and join people together in giving of their abundance in support of the vulnerable; to make beautiful things because beauty will save the world.
I felt inspired around that table, at the partnering of established church with artists and pioneers who are going out into the world, the local community, showing up expecting to find the Sacred, and telling the Story for the sake of the world, the church; in honour of God.
Pioneer ministry / alternative church / fresh expressions may not look like the church with which we have grown all too familiar. These stories look very much like the story of Jesus, however, who met people where they were, broken, isolated, lost, and he offered them love, welcome, respect for their God-given dignity. Such relationships heal; they bring all parties into the fulness of being that is God's dream for creation.
These are stories of what it truly is to do, to be, the church today. May more established churches have the courage and imagination to support this kind of work; to support such artists and ministers, going ito the world to be present and nurture wholeness and healing where they are.