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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

iii - envisioning missional

The following is part three of a workshop I taught at the Presbyterian Global Fellowship (PGF) “Gearing Up” conference in Atlanta. The content and illustrations are from life at Good Shepherd, but I was trying to identify key transferable concepts, particularly for life in smaller churches (though I hope they would transfer into any context).

At one officer retreat, we looked at the expansion of the Church in Acts and the outward growth from Jerusalem to Judea/Samaria to the ends of the earth.

We talked about ministry inside the church (our Jerusalem, though still with a keen “lighthouse” focus). We talked about our “Judea, Samaria, and beyond” and compared it to mission within 1, 6, and 25 miles of the church. We focused on the one-mile radius, identifying neighborhoods, missions, and mission partners.

There are 2000 households within one mile of our church! (that’s 5000-8000 people!).

At first blush, one might identify no mission field other than homes. Historically our mission committee send funds to downtown Charlotte agencies (Crisis Assistance, men’s shelter, etc…) and foreign missionaries. But as we pressed in and got out into the near-neighborhood, we have identified several key mission fields: a public elementary school (1000+ students), an upscale shopping complex “campus”, two men’s group homes, and a subsidized housing project, …and all the 2000 households. Wow – there is more here than many small towns!

There are also significant mission partners in the one mile radius: five churches who have historically shared a Thanksgiving service together. What else could we partner and do?!

We focused on God’s call to be faithful with a little (our near neighborhood), but noted the potential for a six-mile ministry area, partnered with two nearby PCUSA congregations and a broader 25-mile ministry with six PCUSA congregations with whom we have a number of connections already.

Alongside the opportunity to envision the whole congregation as a lighthouse/searchlight church, we also began talking about God’s call for each individual to identify and engage in personal ministry and mission. More on that under the “inviting” section later.

NEXT: evaluating missional

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