Enjoying spending time with the Salt and Light national leaders conference, here in sunny Teeside. Its been a pleasure to rub shoulders with so many mission minded leaders keen to explore ways of reaching their communities. I have been running a stream called “Engage” focussing on connecting the gospel with the opportunities, longings and challenges of our culture. I have enjoyed the warm hospitality of this network of churches on numerous occasions and in my experience they have a wonderful family trait of humility and generosity.
Openness to Connect with other streams
There’s a real openness here to learn from where ever there is good missional practice. So visiting this conference has been Andrew Wilson (New Frontiers), Billy Kennedy (Pioneer), Jonathan Oleyedi (Redeemed). As well as people from 3DM, Bible Society and me (Evangelical Alliance, Tearfund, Baptist…). Its great to connect with a family of churches that have a strong sense of identity and a willingness to learn from those across the wider evangelical spectrum. Mike Breens’ work is being widely quoted here as an influential voice on reshaping the church.
Refocussing around mission
The buzz words as I speak to leaders here are “Missional Communities” “Organic leadership” and “Momentum.” There is a rethinking going on the shape and form of church to better release Christians into reaching their communities. Mark Mumford shared about the need to keep the great commandment and the great commission in parallel. Churches that lead on the Great commission at the expense of the Great commandment people are hurt and used. Where as if the great commandment is lifted above the Great commission then we end up with stagnant introspective insular churches. The way Salt and Light churches express this is of being a “family together on a mission.” Similarly Andrew Wilson shared about the need to balance out: Gospel Progression (missional vision); Gospel Perseverance (pastoral care) and Gospel Preservation (theological purity).
Alongside this desire to grow in missional vision there was an emphasis on moving away from a top down command and control form of leadership into one that catalyses and enables the vision of others to do what God has called them to do. This is an exciting shift for a charismatic church movement and could signal an interesting shift for the UK church. Billy Kennedy shared an interesting ideausing the idea of a fractal as a model of leadership. In a fractal a small change leads to a very large consequence – so when someone asks a church leader where is the church going – you can throw back the question –where are you going because as a church community small changes by anyone in the community can make exponentially influential changes.