Karissa and I are excited to share with you all that Sojourn is now being developed. You might have already noticed the link to Sojourn in the blogroll, but you can check out the site here if you are interested in finding out more information about this new community being created. The website is not quite finished yet, but much of it is up and running. Karissa and I would appreciate your prayers for this new venture. If you would like, you can also enjoy my newest blog entry.
I have a sense of accomplishment today – I finally finished one of the four books that I have been reading! Sometimes I can’t keep myself from starting a new book that someone gives me or suggests to me even though I haven’t finished the other ones I am reading. However, I spent some time this afternoon and finished up The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch.
Upon finishing, the vision that God has laid on my heart to plant a church that is a group of people on mission together to the community has been reinforced. One idea in particular that drove me to deep thought was his discussion of community vs. communitas. A rough definition of both terms: Community – a group of people connected together. Communitas – a group of people who are connected together with a cause. Probably the best way to describe it is with a story/movie that many are familiar with. The Fellowship of the Ring, by Tolkien is the story of a group consisting of an elf, a dwarf, some humans, a wizard, and some hobbits working together with a common cause. At the beginning they were an eclectic group of creatures. Throughout the journey they grew into a communitas. With the onslaught of danger and adventure, they formed a band who trusted in one another and in the mission they were all trying to accomplish. In the same way, Hirsch argues that the church should function similarly – a group of people going through life, facing adventure and danger, all the while working on a common cause, sharing the gospel of Christ by loving the people of our world.
What does that look like? In my own understanding it looks like people who are on mission together to make a difference in people’s lives, to genuinely love others, to stand up for the rights of people all over the world, to fight against poverty, injustice, and all forms of evil. It is not enough for the church to be a group of people who huddle together on Sundays, but the church needs to be intentionally on mission together, actively engaging the culture, experiencing communitas, not simply community. Hirsch argues that this takes place when God, the church, and the community all intersect. It might just be food for thought, but I know I want my family to experience communitas and not just community.
When Pastor Jonathan, prayed for Karissa and I on our last day at Northshore, he used an image of a seedling to describe the church that we feel God has called us to plant. In church planting lingo, the seedling image is often used. I actually like the imagery because I believe it accurately reflects the initial startup of an organic church. Our hope and prayer is that this little seedling that we lovingly refer to as Sojourn, will not just grow into any old tree, but that will be “planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8. This has become one of my prayers for our little church. Feel free to join with me in this prayer.
Karissa and I are praying for a lead team of about 20 adults. We are asking God to reveal to us people who are feeling called by God to be a part of a missional church. Missional is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot in “churchese”, but for me it means a group of people gathering together in an organic way to actively express the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word, deed, and power (Matt. 9:35). For our little seedling this will look like meeting together as a large gathering twice a month for corporate prayer, worship, teaching, and a meal. The other two weeks will be spent in smaller communities we will call missional communities. COMMUNITIES – because the church will be made up of a collection of communities that will each have 10-15 adults plus kids. These communities will each have a community pastor and will have “church” together every other week in someone’s home. This will be the place where people will know others and where they will be known by others. These communities will be the heartbeat of the church. Whether the whole church is gathered or scattered, we are the church. MISSIONAL – because each community will adopt a mission, something that they can regularly do to bless their local community through the Word, deed, and power. For instance, if a group is located in Bothell, they may adopt the mission of taking care of the widows in their community. This might be yard care, housework, carpools, shopping, praying for, hospital visits, and more for the widows in their neighborhood.
As we get closer to planting this seedling, we will keep you all informed not only so you could pray for us, but also because you might want to join us in this adventure we are embarking upon. By the way, we came to the name Sojourn primarily because of the two definitions: 1. a temporary dwelling place, 2. a journey. We felt both of these definitions describe uniquely what it is like to follow Jesus. If you are wanting to know more about Sojourn, let Karissa and I know. There are many ways you can partner with us in this venture. Soon, we will be releasing a prayer letter of sorts to not only let people know about what we feel God is leading us in, but also to build a team of people committed to praying for Sojourn. If you know of someone looking for a community of followers of Jesus who would be interested in something like this, send them our way. Thanks so much for your prayers as we step out in faith.