As part of the “homework” for our discernment team last week we asked people the question: “What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Jesus?'” We asked the same question about the word “church.” We talked about the various responses in our second “gathering” with the team this past Sunday and also about how we respond to those same questions. We spent some time in Matthew 16:13-25. Now we are digging even deeper and this week we all have to come up with our own short answers for the following:
Who is Jesus?
What is the church?
What is salvation?
What is service?
What is evangelism?
Our goal is that in the next two meetings (or perhaps three) that we will be able to bring all of our answers together and create a “foundational statement” that will answer all of these questions in brief, everyday terms. We are not trying to create another creed for the Book of Confessions, but rather to find our heart and common ground around these questions so that we can work from there as we seek God’s vision for our new community. Once we complete this task I will be sure to post it here for all to read and comment. In the meantime, feel free to leave your “gut response” to the question: “Who is Jesus?”
One of my goals in keeping this blog is to help keep those of you interested in this new church development updated on our progress in real-time. Keeping that in mind, and since we are currently in the process of gathering a “discernment team,” I want to help define this using information from “Starting New Churches” document that we are using to guide us through this process.
Discernment Team: This is the group who will discern God’s will for the beginning of a new church among a particular people or community. This group will covenant together to work through the gatherings of “Starting New Churches” once they have completed their third gathering. They may or may not continue to be part of the Core Leadership of the projected new church. There are several moments for members of the Discernment Team to reaffirm their commitment to the processes or to move on.
It is important to remember that this group called to begin the process, but not necessarily to be the ones to carry it through to completion in the “launch” phase. For that reason, the team will be small and focused on listening to God’s direction for laying the foundation. Others, who are not part of the discernment team, will later be “called” to be core leaders and to carry out the vision that results from the discernment process (though there will be some core leaders that are also a part of the discernment team).
Currently, we are inviting specific people to be a part of this team. Here is some insight into that process from “Starting New Churches.”
Making the Invitation
We are not looking for people to simply “fill out” a committee. We are looking for highly skilled and highly motivated people. We are looking for Christian people. We are engaged in a spiritual task. This will take time, sacrifice, and faith. The invitation by the convener is to a 16 gathering process called “Starting a New Church.” The guidelines for these gatherings are available at www.PresbyGrow.net. The guidelines give a suggested process and schedule. We strongly suggest that the conveners familiarize themselves with the process before they extend an invitation to others to join in. We recommend the process include all 16 gatherings. When done, if we decide a new church is what God is asking of us, the team will have completed all the work needed for mission grants and to call the appropriate leadership for the new church.
You can read more about the discernment team in the appendix section of the “Starting New Churches” document. The key thing for us is that we have representatives of Mountain View Presbyterian Church (as the “parent” church), representatives of the Stanwood/Camano Island community, and representatives from NPS Presbytery.
Our discernment team will be participating in a “Starting New Churches” workshop at Mountain View Presbyterian Church, hosted by Craig Williams. Craig is an associate with the Western Office of Church Development with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The workshop dates are January 4 – 7, 2012. We will be meeting in the evenings Wednesday through Friday, and all day on Saturday.
The workshop will serve as a kind of “pre-gathering” for our discernment team. During the workshop we will go through everything that we will be doing in our discernment process and begin to anticipate what it will take. The goal is that after the workshop the “Starting New Churches” process will not only makes sense, but our team will have experience from the training that will speed up the process and make it more thorough. We will begin the 17 Gatherings in the second or third week of January.
If you’ve taken a look at the “Roadmap” page you know that we are in the process of gathering together a discernment team that will lead us through the initial process of determining what kind of community/church we are called to begin. On that team we want to have representative members from each of the following: Mountain View Presbyterian Church, North Puget Sound Presbytery, and Stanwood/Camano Island community. Our goal is to have a team with about 8 – 12 members. Already we have had four really amazing people say “yes” to being a part of that team. When you include Kristina and me that brings our team total up to 6 so far! We are on our way! Once we get the entire team together and they are approved by Mountain View’s session and the Presbytery Executive Board I will let you all know who they are. Please continue to pray that God will lead the right people to this team and this new adventure.