Some people around the country have called us to ask us what we are doing and how we got started. Although the last thing we want to do is reduce this to a cookie cutter model there are some things that are reproducible. The first starting with a burden for something different within the local church. It might start with frustration, angst, or even indifference, but at the core there has to be a burden for change. Often times this can be perceived as rebelliousness by others, however, sometimes the Spirit of God is stirring in us and our community in such a way because He is wanting to see something different. Therefore, it must start with a burden and that burden must result in activity and if not, it is just unhealthy grumbling that creates division.
After looking back over the last year we saw a few patterns that were helpful for us to move our burden into activity. We hope it is helpful.
Observing Context: Spend time in a community, neighborhood, city getting to know their rhythms. Ideally, you are already from this context and it is just taking the time to articulate what you already knew was there, however, if not take the time to listen and learn. Talk to people. Talk to strangers. Ask them questions about their community. Most people love where they live and they will enjoy talking about their community.
Gathering Others: If your burden is something that doesn’t peak curiosity in others then it might not be a burden but more so just something fun to blog about! This can’t be done alone. There must be others. It will make it messy, complicated, slow it down, but without others you are just some weird person.
Common Vision: After taking the time to connect with others and find like minded people we began to spend some time sharing our vision and dreams with one another. We Gathered with meals once a week in our home and spent time looking through scripture, discussing spiritual backgrounds, spiritual perspectives, and encouraging one another. The intention is to share and build community at the same time. Most people don’t accomplish something purely because of a common vision. There has to be relational connections and we wanted to spend the first 1-2 months establishing a common vision.
Common Values: After spending time discussing and sharing our vision and burdens we wanted to begin to establish common values. What is most important to us? What do we want to replicate? What do we want to avoid? For our group we are big on Jesus and getting to know him and live like him so we spent the next 1-2 months establishing common values. We continued to share a meal together, dialogue, involved a little more teaching from scripture and even invited others to participate in this journey with us.
Implement and Activity: After 2-4 months of talking about something, finding common language, sharing ideas, and understanding one another it is time to implement. It can’t remain ideas forever. We need activity. For us it was a huge bonding moment when we partnered together to expose some of our vision and values to the community. For our group one of the biggest values was being a benefit to the community so for us we wanted to do something for the community. In the end it was something that added momentum to our group and helped us to refine our vision and values even more.
Neighborhood Gatherings: At this point we would began to find others who were intrigued and interested by our vision and values and we wanted to provide a place for them to go through this experience with us. We created “neighborhood gatherings” which is simply meeting in someone’s home, sharing a meal, and continuing in this journey with us. We spent 2-4 months in this phase.
Public Gatherings: As we continued to meet in homes, continued to refine our vision, and implement activity it became appropriate to host public gatherings. We meet every Sunday morning at 10am to encourage one another and continue to make progress toward our vision and values. It has been a lot of fun.
I hope this outline is helpful and it allows you to take the burdens that you have been given and instead of just remaining frustrated but allow those frustrations to turn into activity and hopefully see something different.