24 September 2011

Nettle Hill - Church planting, morning

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This was a great day. The Dales were visiting from the USA and were sharing about aspects of church planting. It wasn't training in the way we normally view it. It was a sharing of real life stories and it was much more about people than the things we plan and do.

Giles introduced the day by reminding us that we're looking for organic growth. He referred to Romans 15 where Paul explains that he speaks of what he has seen and heard. Stories are good.

A North American IndianTony Dale continued this theme. He pointed out that speaking from the front was almost unknown in New Testament times. When Eutychus fell from the window, the word used for 'talking' is not 'monologue' but 'dialogue'. They were having a conversation.

The first story we heard was about Tony and Felicity's journey to America and how when they arrived they felt abandoned by the Lord. They'd come from such exciting times in Britain during the outpouring of the Spirit in the 70s and 80s, and now they didn't fit in to the church scene in the USA, work plans failed, and life became very difficult. It's often a struggle to listen and obey in such circumstances, but this is key in the journey.

Felicity took us through a listening exercise called Virkler, it involves four steps.
  1. Becoming free from distraction
  2. Focussing on Jesus
  3. Listening to the flow of spontaneous thoughts
  4. Writing them down (they can be weighed later)
Virkler is more fully described on the CO2 page (about half way down). We spent a few minutes on this exercise, then reported back with things that had seemed significant. There was a clear pattern and we were encouraged by that.

We heard how Tony and Felicity set aside several times each year just for listening together with friends. She described one of these times on a mountain around a campfire when someone saw in their mind an Indian on a hill surrounded by a ring of fire and also a bungalow with two basements. It later turned out that this was very accurate and the key to resolving some difficult situations.

Tony and Felicity continued to take turns at leading out thoughts right through the day. They told us about times in the 1970s and 80s when everyone would share openly in the meeting and how these were times clearly arranged by the Spirit. They have no doubt that Jesus want to lead his people and transform our situations.

We (plural, jointly) have the mind of Christ. We need to hear the quietest people and encourage them to share, this is treating the weaker parts of the body with greater honour. As the Charismatic Renewal developed and matured we stopped hearing through everyone. Some became famous or led large movements, many others were left out. Eventually we were left communicating head to head instead of heart to heart.

Change doesn't happen naturally, we need to plan and act to make space for the 'little' people. Our job is to make disciples, Jesus said he'd build the church himself.

It's useful to bring groups of unbelievers under the influence of the word. If we can do that their lives will change. It's a process of coming under the rule and lordship of Christ. We should ask people to follow Jesus, not join what we're doing. Follow simple patterns, eating together is important. Getting people talking is essential because we remember much more of what we express than what we hear or read. Multiplication generally happens outside our existing context; it's at the fringes and with unbelievers.

Success is not measured in terms of size; it's about multiplying the small. We need to lay down our view of success and look for transformed lives instead.

Please note - this article is only a superficial account. When the recordings become available I'll add a link to them here so that you can hear what was said for yourself.

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