The Joondalup Thing…The Next Chapter

Well things have been moving here at the Joondalup thing. If you are wondering what the Joondalup thing is, it may help if you read some of the posts listed there on the left hand column listed under “Categories” then “Surban Mission“.

But in short I would have to say that I think I am the most impatient guy I have ever met. For years I have been taught that if you want a job done well then do it yourself. Apply this to starting a new church or a suburban mission or anything that requires leadership and a team of people and I think you shoot yourself in the foot. Meaning; that if this idea of a Christian mission in the area in which we live was all about me, my vision and me telling the group what they should be and do to fulfill this vision of mine, then it would be all done by now and we would be on the road to looking like an organised church.
But instead, we have spent the best part of a year wandering around, having meals together, having some very in depth conversations together about our likes and dislikes, desires and dreams, not appearing to be going anywhere. As some know, it has been a tough road for me as I just want to pull it all together and tell everyone what will work best. But who am I? I am not appointed or recognised as THE or even A leader in this group.
So we pushed on together, each one sharing their thoughts and dreams for what could be, each one being a different thought and dream to the next person…no wonder churches just stick a senior pastor on, or select an eldership team to tell everyone where they are going to take them…and no wonder these same elders and senior pastors are forever crying; “I wish these people would get on board with this vision” as well as “We need to market this vision better, we need to get more ownership of where we are going”, “We need more stakeholders”, “If only people owned the vision of what we are doing then we would have more people involved in our ministries”.

Here is my last comment to Christine as I drifted off to sleep last night, “My goodness you are a beautiful woman…”
Oh, no the one before that comment sorry –
“I think that what we have is a group of people in which 90% of them honestly feel they have a vested interest in this group working well, whatever that means to them as individuals. I bet many churches in the world would kill for just that, a 90% buy in. That 90% of the people involved in their group actually feel they are a part of actually steering the direction and future of where they will go and what they will be”.

I wonder, is that better or worse than me having taken the reigns as a self appointed “leader” and telling everyone that we will be XYZ and do ABC and all who liked that come with me, and all who don’t then…bugger off? Honest question. Maybe it is not better. By some measurements we may we have had people getting saved, we may have had some great activities happening around our suburb, we may have started a bible study for our new believers and interested friends by now.
Instead we have a group of people with about 3 maybe 4 differing points of view as to what we should look like, what our purpose is and how we should act this purpose out, but about 90% of the group are desperate to make sure they are a part of the discussion, to make sure they are part of the solution, to make sure that this thing really happens.

Where are we at?
If you click on the small picture there you will see my summary of a handful of different models of “Why We Exist“. Cole calls it our DNA. I have, as best as I can grouped them into what seems to be 3 common things that almost any church would agree are primary to their purpose. We all seemed to agree last night that something like; 1.Discipleship/Formation, 2. Nurture/Relationships/Community and 3. Mission/Outreach are the 3 main things on our scope, most of the ‘stuff’ we want to DO will come out of this WHO/WHY of our existence. In fact to this point we agree that we are not unique from any church any of us have been to.

It’s the next bit that we seem to be stuck on, but are starting to push through. (Although I have to confess I had to get up and walk out last night due to … well frustration that stems from the comments above. I just wanted to tell everyone what it should be called, what it should look like and when it was all going to happen. This has been the way I have been trained and taught in ministry. It ‘gets the job done’. But I knew it would steal from people the right of owning it from having worked it out and come to a consensus…even one different from the one I think is best…lets face it, who am I?

So;
Do we keep meeting for a meal on Wednesdays, followed by conversation that is natural, intentional, deep, fun, relaxed, challenging…and so on? But that’s all.
Or do we we stop this and change it to a more strategic, planned, structured event in which we agree on a direction for some study and discussion?
Or do we do both alternating the Wednesday nights, one lose one tight. (side track – the use of words like lose, tight, structured unstructured, formal, informal, deep, shallow, heavy, light and so on, have caused more angst than almost anything…words…hmmm – end side trackk)
Or do we just start a different group on the same night?
Or do we start another gathering in the week so we can do both?
What do we do with kids, because if we had another gathering point in the week, it would become ‘church’ for many of us, (as in, replace the weekly Sunday meeting), which means what do we do with kids, and as they grow, what about teens? These things are ‘normally’ served up to us by the organised church.
Or maybe we should have alternate gatherings (I think this is accurate from last nights discussion..) alternate the more ‘planned’ Wednesdays with the more ‘planned’ Sundays. So every second Sunday there is a ‘planned’ ‘event’, kids can participate, and the next Wednesday is come as you are for a meal and see what happens. The following Sunday is unplanned, meal, hangout, chat nurture, love, share, care, swear…it’s an emerging church – JOKING!!
Then the next Wednesday is ‘planned’.
You get where I am going? (I didn’t get all this ‘detail’ last night!)

NOW…
What exactly is meant when we say ‘planned’ and ‘unplanned’?
Well I think it has to have something to do with what we agree is the out working of our DNA, what we are on about has to be expressed in out practice (orthodoxy/praxy etc).

So I (personally) think that both planned and unplanned (and our day to day encounters) can include, even could include our DNA. Our conversation would be sprinkled with the word of God, with encouragement in our faith, with love, with challenge to mission and with prayer.
BUT – On the nights/days we have dedicated to be ‘planned’ (for want of a better word!!!:) ) we have some teaching or activity that involves us as a group (collectively) intentionally growing together. Now for me, (that is me, personally!) I am not hung up on these planned events (hate using that word) having to be a bible study/discussion every time. But I believe it would be difficult NOT to have the bible as part of our journey together at any given event if in fact it is a part of our DNA. I see someone sharing their story, a group night of prayer, a learning journey of some sort, an outing with a purpose of some sort, some kind of ‘missional activity’…whatever, it’s planned and it connects directly into our group DNA/purpose and it is lead by someone/s on that event/activity etc etc. But obviously the very fact that the bible would be a KEY in our DNA, most of these night would involve some good interaction with God’s word.

I think there were some who saw the ‘planned’ things always being about bible study/discussion, this is fair enough too, this may be where it goes.
I think some wonder about what happens if we do have a discussion on biblical application and some differ in their belief about the very nature of the bible itself, will this cause tension, too much disagreement over authority issues even before we get to what this passage of scripture means to our lives. These issues were dismissed by some and others wondered if they would feel accepted for bringing along ‘different’ beliefs to a ‘study/discussion’. Great questions to be wrestling with.

What of size?
Some discussion was had last night about the value of smaller groups. I mean smaller than our mega church of 30ish!! I mean 2 or 3.
There is great value and even biblical precedence for small groups of 2 or 3 gathering for prayer, study, bible reading, accountability, relationship.
We acknowledged the value in this, but I think, like many things in our group, these things will happen when the individuals interested make them happen. This may well go for evangelism to our suburb, social justice issues, community involvement and so on.

For too long we have been told what to do and when to do it regarding so much of our faith and related ecclesial activities. Leadership does have a part to play in encouragement, example etc but, the down side can be that no one does a thing until someone says, “This is an idea, we should all do it”.

That is size down (groups of 2/3) what of size up?
When is it time for us to start hiring the local hall…NEVER, in my humble opinion! I think house size will be the crunch for us. When everyone turns up at the same time (almost like last night!) we may be in trouble already!
We did not talk too much about this last night, but we will need to do something!
I don’t intend to keep looking for a bigger location. I would like to nail what our DNA is so that no matter how many locations we meet in, we are essentially about the same stuff.

For me…I want to see organic style churches where ever people are curious about knowing what it means to follow Jesus…anywhere….everywhere! Interested? You got a house?

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12 thoughts on “The Joondalup Thing…The Next Chapter

  1. But no one told me that this would be tough, I though it would be all about freedom and sunshine and bliss and tip toeing through the tulips…but I feel like I am in doing it tough and we havn’t really started yet, this is just getting ready!
    I need to enjoy the journey more…
    I need to enjoy the journey more…
    I need to…

  2. I feel for you Scott cos I’ve experienced similar frustrations.
    What you are going through is the journey that is important for you guys right now and unfortunately its not as sexy or exciting as you (or I) anticipated.
    I keep the metaphor of a olden times adventurer exploring new lands with an out of date map. There’s excitement but also trepidation as I realise that I don’t always know what I’m doing.
    But somehow (surprising hey!) God keeps doing great things.
    I know its tough but stick with the less travelled road. It’s worth it.

  3. Scott, what follows is just what was running through my head as I read… don’t know much about your group’s journey so just disregard as needed.

    From what I read your line “we haven’t really started yet, this is just getting ready” doesn’t seem to fit (though I know what you mean).

    If you’ve got some form of DNA happening, hasn’t the action already started? Isn’t the current tension of “what will it look like?” going to be a continual thing throughout the journey? If there’s not consensus now on what it should look like, then already perhaps it can’t just look like one thing.

    i.e. can’t it look like multiple things that somehow are part of a network? That way as new people come on board, what the various parts/sub-groups look like can change too?

    Just some random thoughts. Would be interested to hear more of your journey with this.

  4. Matt M and Gaz, Thanks heaps for your reminders, I have woken up, gone for a walk and come home and read these comments, now feeling more ready to go the long haul, start to pioneer, start to recognize that this all started a long time ago, in fact no doubt started inme maybe 6 years ago or more. So we are well on the way.
    I will no doubt go through a frustrating period again…and again…and again.

    Oh – one thing, I got in trouble as my thoughts look like they represent where the whole group is at, and that our group were all present Wed night for the discussion, but as we often have on Wed nights, some of the group were in the other room chatting about other topics so the conversations recorded above are just my recollections of the few who were in “the loungeroom group”. I need to remember not to talk about anything of significance to the whole group on the week that we are not all together 😦 Sorry folks.

  5. Scottie, great to feature on your blog and in your thinking in some way. Taa.

    But for mine please add:
    1. Jesus at center
    2. Covenant Community based on Jesus
    Then…
    3. Worship
    4. Discipleship
    5. Mission

  6. Wow Vawz,

    Nice post and I will link it on my site because I think you sum it up really well. Ultimately, we are all after the same thing. Hopefully, if we are all working on the mission of making disciples of Jesus, we are all cheering each other on because we all face some level of frustration. And this occurs even if we are 100% right as churches, we will still have frustrations. We need only look at Jesus’ ministry to see that.

    I guess my two questions that I am constantly asking that I love people to answer is Who is a disciple of Jesus? Is there a place for church leadership?

    God bless you, Vawz. Keep on, keeping on, brother.

  7. What about the natural leader? The person who is a gifted leader…the assumption is that they rise up in any situation.Building on Morpheus’ qs, not answering, just putting my 2c in… how do these “natural leaders” work here? By instinct alone won’t they become the “church leadership?”
    Glad the Bible was discussed and involved here 2 Vawz, from my point of view it’s an essential…a big essential.

  8. Aash, I think where I am coming from is that the “natural leader” or the person with a clear spiritual gift of leadership is clearly welcome in this group. That there is space for this person to use their gift, just as their is equal space for a person to teach/pastor or to spur us on in evangelism. The way we have viewed the use of leadership in our evangelical/charismatic/penticostal churches may in fact be too narrow for our purposes in this group.
    I was talking to my mate Brendon yesterday and we talked about “Reframing Leadership”. I guess what I am going through is a reframing of so much to do with church, so why not throw my definition of leadership into the mix and see if it can be expressed in any other way that the one I am used to seeing it used.
    I think we have equated leadership with being ‘in charge’ or being ‘the boss’. We use the rhetoric about being ‘servant leaders’ and having upside down structures, but I wonder what a structure that was a straight line might look like while still use the leadership gift? Or a structure that looked like a net?

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