Our discernment team had a very productive day-long retreat at Warm Beach Camp last Saturday. We wanted to have more time together to move through a larger chunk of the discernment material. Although we hoped to move through multiple “gatherings” from our handbook, what actually happened was that we spent most of our time filling in the details on our mission plan. Our team is nothing if not thorough! And I, for one, am glad that we are because when we finish something it is done with excellence and is something to be proud of! It was good that we took the time for the retreat because we discovered that we had more to discuss in the mission plan than we thought.
The mission plan is basically complete with the exception of some smaller details that need to be filled in (like some budget numbers). We hope to be ready to share it very soon. We are moving forward with the final phase of the discernment process which involves developing a “missionary plan” (leadership positions and job descriptions). Our goal is to have the discernment process wrapped up by the beginning of July so that we will be ready to present all of the material to Mountain View’s session, Presbytery Executive Board, and eventually the GA grant.
Obviously the process of starting this new faith community does not end with the conclusion of the discernment process, it just transitions into a new phase. One of the final tasks of our team will be to create a timeline for what will happen next. This will include a timeline for when we will begin worship gatherings. From there we will begin searching for the leaders we need to get things going and begin putting together a core team. All along the way we continue to pray and listen, seeking God’s steps as we go. I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures (recently quoted to me by a member of our discernment team):
In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
– Proverbs 16:9
Part of our discernment team after finishing the rough draft of our foundational statement
Everyone’s smiling because we’re done with the Foundational Statement! Well… we’re done with the rough draft anyway. It has been numerous sessions with a lot of hard work, but we are almost there. I had to take a picture to preserve the moment with all of the papers strewn everywhere. Pulling all of our ideas together into something coherent was not easy! If you could see the whiteboard in the front of the room it would show even more of the chaos. Each individual component of our statement (Jesus, Church, Salvation, Service, & Evangelism) has been worked and reworked. Now we take a breather, reflect on it again, and hopefully we will put the finishing touches on it this Sunday.
I have to say that even though it has been a lot of intellectual work so far, it has also been a spiritually rewarding process. Thinking deeply about our most cherished ideas about our relationship with Jesus and trying to put those into words is rewarding in itself. Discussing those ideas and trying to reach consensus with a group of other believers is even more so. We are truly blessed to have an amazing and enthusiastic group of people working on our team. We have a lot of fun, but everyone is also willing to speak up, disagree, listen, and compromise. I look forward to being able to share the results of all our labor with you soon.
Speaking of labor… the Andersons are expecting their first child any day now! We look forward to meeting the newest member to our discernment team and potentially the youngest member of our new church.
Our discernment team had our first meeting last Friday night, and our second meeting is scheduled for this coming Sunday. It feels wonderful to finally be underway and moving into the discernment process! Currently, our discernment team consists of the following people: Adam and Andrea Anderson, John and Jackie Fuller, Jason and Becca Kreutz, Brandon and Kristina Bailey.
I am very excited about the group that God has called to this process so far. They bring a wealth of experiences and insight to the table. Our first gathering was exactly what I have hoped and prayed for. We spent time eating dinner together, praying, reading scripture, planning, laughing, and talking about Jesus. What could be better?
We have a lot of work ahead. In the next two gatherings we will work on creating a “foundational statement.” This will be a one-page statement that answers the question, “Who is Jesus?” and defines “church,” “salvation,” “evangelism,” and “service.” The responses will determine what is started.
If you are interested in knowing more about this process, take a look at the Starting New Churches handbook (the above definition comes from that document). When we complete the foundational statement I will be sure to post it on this blog.