Discerning God's Mission
Articles for discussion
Encouraged and Challenged
Report from Sunday 24th March – ‘Looking Forward’
additional reading "Re-think, 9 paradigm shifts for actuating the Church" an e-book by Brad Brisco, (a slow down load) This is an article mentioned by Rev Jerry Duncan in his presentation.
Access to Australian Bureau of Statistics for Warners Bay area
Encouraged and Challenged
These are the words that come to mind as I reflect on the meeting held at The Willows on Sunday 24 March with Rev Dr Jerry Duncan. Jerry came in response to the Recommendation from the recent Church and Life Witness Consultation held in North Lake Macquarie Uniting Church. This ensured that we were all on the same page both as individuals, congregations and within the Presbytery.
It was wonderful to see over 40 people from both Boolaroo and The Willows keen to share in this way. Many thanks from the Church Council for your support.
The purpose was to consider future missional goals in order to achieve our vision of being a community that follows the Commandments of Jesus to love one another as he has loved us (see the full statement in front of 2019 directory).
We were commended for the ways we hope to achieve this vision that are listed and were reminded again that the church lives in different times from those of the past. Our current approach and the work that is currently being done at both Boolaroo and The Willows were also commended.
We were reminded that the Church is only one instrument of God’s mission and how important it for us to know that when we talk about being a Missional Church in the 21st Century that it is always God’s mission of restoring His world and not our mission. We are only one of the ways through which God will work.
We need to recognise that
God’s primary activity is to work in the world He created.
The Church’s mission is to serve the Mission of God.
God can and does use whatever and whoever to fulfil His mission.
Jesus came to serve and not be served so the church has the responsibility to follow The Lord’s example and serve the community in which it finds itself.
We were encouraged and reassured that much of what we already do is a feature of God’s church in the 21st Century, and when we looked at the Church through history, we could see that the more we model ourselves on the early Church the closer we are to the Church Jesus founded. This challenges us to realise that everything the Church does should be missional, if we are sincere in our desire to be used by God.
In small groups we identified the great changes that have occurred in society in the last 50-100 years and how they have impacted the church.
Being a missional church in our world today means that we need to look for God at work in the community in which we find ourselves, and not just to copy what works in another area/church as this may not necessarily transfer to our community.
So, the challenge is to ask how will we ensure that we are a local church at mission in NLM in these times?
The answer we were encouraged to see lies in 3 Ds
1 DISCOVER what God is already doing? Listen and be aware of the community in which we find ourselves. As we know our community, listen to each other and to the leading of the Holy Spirit we will see what God is already doing in this area.
2 DISCERN what God wants us to do as we become more aware of what our strengths and limitations are and where we realistically can be of service. To just reinvent something that someone else is already doing is not necessarily the way we are called to be in today’s world.
3 DEBRIEF with others for it is essential that we as God’s people are on the same page, hearing the same call as we become more aware of where and how we can realistically participate well using our available resources.
We were reminded that setting missional goals for 5 years is a challenging and time-consuming process, but the more we are on the same page, understanding our role as the people of God the easier it will become.
For NLMUC it will be an ongoing activity as we affirm together our vision and what we hope to achieve. Hopefully together we have begun the process that will enable us to focus our energies on seeking to be on the same page together and with God and His mission for the world in the days ahead.
On reflection, the afternoon was informative, encouraging, challenging and maybe even frustrating at times for those who like to move straight to action, eager to get things done and see results.
This time together was a beginning process for Discerning God’s will which often takes time, and as we continue to do the things we currently do well, get to know our community better and seek and recognise opportunities that will come we will continue to walk with God to fulfil God’s Mission described by Jesus in Luke 4 as:
Tell the good news
Allow people to live an abundant life with God
Perform acts of mercy and kindness
Work for a fair and just social structure
Experience and receive God’s grace as we share the hope and trust we have in his promises as we walk closely with him each day.
Report from Sunday 24th March – ‘Looking Forward’
Beginning with a personal introduction by Rev. Dr. Jerry Duncan the meeting was immediately personalised, not about him but about people, individuals and communities. Honesty about who we are and what we are about is at the basis of whatever we hope to achieve as we share in God’s mission to the world. God’s mission to the world is not impersonal, not about charging people to believe something, but about sharing life and love and self – and inviting us to enter into that joyful movement.
There was opportunity to reflect in the meeting and to take that reflection away for further deeper reflection. Many congregations may well have needed to hear what Dr. Jerry shared, and some would perhaps have been ‘weighed down’ with the amount of socially and legally conforming issues that must be addressed, however we have been working in partnership for years. We have joyfully learned how to comply with social and legal requirements and how to work in partnership. As we consider entering in yet further go God’s mission in our areas, we are not fearful of having to learn and conform to whole load of new requirements. For example, our building complies with all such requirements for others to be able to use it as we give ourselves to our community.
The call to recognise ‘mission’ as God’s mission is always timely. To make this clearer, ‘we have no mission’ other than sharing in the mission of God. It is God’s mission. We share in God’s mission to young people in our welcome of children into our building, in the Lord’s presence at Kids Club, Playgroup or Youth Group. To share in the Lord’s mission in these and all areas is our Joy.
To watch and listen at this time is to take time to appreciate our situation and go where Jesus leads and not where we desire or would lead Him to go. There are many calls but in this time of Lent we need to listen and discern the call of the Lord. As we listen and pray together, we will ‘tune in’ and grow in unity of the Lord’s call. The number that attended the meeting to hear and share in this sense of call was so encouraging. We desire to work with the Lord and with each other in unity.
My thinking is that we consider our community in conjunction with prayer and Bible reading as Dr. Jerry suggested. We can do this in our own homes, in our various study groups and especially as we come together in our worship services on Sunday and Wednesday. As we continue to do this during Lent, then we might meet after Easter and in the joy of Easter consider our calling.
In the meantime, what great encouragement to see so many people attend this meeting; being ‘together in one accord’ was a wonderful experience and it was time so very well spent.