Momentum (Christ – centred, Spirit – empowered, Mission – focused)
Movement is an interesting word. It is hard to define, but when you are in one, it is impossible to deny. One of the key elements of our vision prayer is this idea of movement: “We long to be a movement of churches…”
I am often asked, “Are we a movement yet?” My answer is, “I am not sure,” but I do feel that things are changing. Let me explain. My best metaphor of movement is people pushing a common vision together with great intensity and then feeling a force or power greater than them beginning to pull them forward. The “push” is being replaced by a “pull,” and the momentum begins to increase exponentially. I cannot say that we are experiencing that kind of “pull” yet, but I sure do feel some strong tugs of the Holy Spirit. Let me elaborate…
The first tug began with my visits to the various District Executive Committees (Dexcoms). These leaders work alongside the District Superintendent to give leadership to the Districts throughout Canada. My desire was to listen deeply to their ideas, build a new sense of trust and to share my vision for a new environment in the Alliance family. I expressed my passion to see “an environment that empowers our family of churches in Canada and around the world to be Christ-centred, Spirit-empowered and Mission-focused movements where God-given dreams, passions and visions can be unleashed with life-transforming power.”
I was humbled by the eager receptivity of this vision for a new environment and a strong commitment to working together to see it become a reality. I felt from every Dexcom a strong “We’re in!” that was refreshing and exhilarating. I know we have a long way to go, and that many challenges lie ahead, but it was so obvious that God had been at work, setting the stage for a new conversation and the birth of a new dream. It was a clear tug of the Holy Spirit.
The second tug occurred in October, when I invited our key leaders from all five regions of the world (Vice Presidents, National Ministry Centre Directors, Regional Developers and District Superintendents) to engage in a process of dreaming about a preferred future for our family of churches. The desire was to develop a new strategic plan that would unite all the five regions of our world in a global vision known as the “Five S” movement. It would call us to think with inspired imagination about how to work together in new and inventive ways to see least-reach people embraced in every corner of our world. Our consultant/facilitator, Jonathan Wilson, was masterful at helping all of us feel engaged and valued in the process. However, it became apparent right at the beginning that there were several elephants in our leadership room. Underlying these elephants was an environment of low trust. Over the years, a breakdown in communication on a number of levels had left people feeling lost, disenfranchised and marginalized. We could not even begin to dream about a new strategy until the issue of low trust was addressed. I applaud our key leaders who stayed in the room and did the hard work of addressing the issues that had pushed us into unhealthy silos. It took us three days of intense conversations, which resulted in clarifications, apologies and forgiveness. It was a process bathed in the grace of God. At the end of our journey, we felt that enough trust had been restored to move forward with fresh hope and energy. We collectively sensed that a weight had been lifted and a fresh tug of the Spirit had been felt.
The third tug was experienced in January, when the original team of leaders was joined by a larger group of world leaders in Penang, Malaysia. With over 60 people in the process, it was a challenging dynamic to get us all moving in the same direction. Once again, Jonathan Wilson was brilliant in navigating us through a variety of conversations that resulted in amazing unity and renewed vision to move forward. Key areas, such as leadership development, rose to the surface as something that was central to the future of our family of churches. Identifying, equipping and deploying a whole new generation of spirit-filled leaders captured our imagination. The room was filled with new energy and excitement. One of the major developments was the desire to see the National Ministry Centre as the prophetic, collaborative and empowering hub of our whole family of churches. In other words, the National Ministry Centre would become the place where inspiration and service radiate out to the local churches in every region of the world. The desire to work more closely as leaders in all five regions of the world was palpable. Silos were coming down, and a fresh new approach to global evangelization was starting to emerge. One person stated, “We accomplished more in three days than what previously had taken five years.” It was clearly a tug of the Holy Spirit.
If you were to ask me today, “Are we are a movement yet?,” I would probably still be hesitant to say a resounding “yes,” but the momentum is growing. There is an evident hunger in our leaders and church congregations for something more. We are not satisfied with the status quo and believe that God is pulling us forward into something far greater than we could ever imagine.
One of my favourite things to do is spend time with my grandson, Jordon. He enjoys wild adventures with his Grandpa. Whenever he is on one of his ride-on toys, he will ask me to give him either a push or a pull. He wants a stronger power outside of himself to enable him to go faster and further than he can possibly go in his own strength. I love to see the thrill in his eyes when I bring my power to accelerate his adventure. He continues to yell, “Go faster, Grandpa!,” to which I reply, “Hold on, Jordon!,” and away we go together. These days, I find myself saying to God, “Go faster, Lord!,” to which I sense Holy Spirit whispering, “Hold on, my son…the ride is just beginning!”
“How very clear is our perspective. How very explicit are our marching orders. How very practical is our program. How inspiring and glorious is our outlook” — A.B. Simpson
Please find the original version in C&MA website