12 February 2010

Nottingham - Gathering the regions

Peter Farmer had invited us to Nottingham for a national meeting to consider simple church growth, mission, and networking. I collected David, then Sean, and we set off up the A1. A Nottingham canal sceneAs we passed Stamford the traffic seized up and the satnav recommended leaving the A1 and heading north through Stamford and Bourne so that is what we did. (We learned later that there'd been a major accident on the A1.)

When we arrived in Grantham there were more holdups, then a closed slip road, and we were very late arriving at the meeting. What should have been one and a half hours or so took at least two and a half!

(Caveat: what follows is based on my personal notes taken during the meeting. They don't always represent my own view or opinion, sometimes I'm reporting what I heard rather than what I think myself.)

After a coffee and chat, people from six regions of the UK shared on organic church growth and activity in their areas. Pete began house church meetings two years ago and is aware of ten or twelve groups in Nottingham. They are starting to plant amongst non-believers. Johnny and Steve also began meeting in smaller groups two years ago in the South-West, they're meeting with unchurched people too. Rob and Mim are in London in a mixed community with large numbers of Muslims, they have seen that we need to see people as loved by God, not as potential 'converts'. Tim, Tammy and Aaron all reported from the Midlands, they want to plant churches that will plant churches and are learning how to listen to Jesus and obey. Alistair from North-East Scotland is working amongst friends and mentioned the annual Clan gathering at St Andrews. Sean, David and I shared about the network of groups meetings in parts of the East.

During a time of open sharing, I stressed that we need to hear and then obey. Obedience without first hearing is not possible, and blessing comes when we are obedient. But the question of how we hear can be problematic. Sometimes we struggle with this.

The Lord also gave me a picture. I saw a jelly mould but I only had a small cup of jelly. The Lord said, 'Pour it into the mould.' So I did, and when it was set and turned out it was in the shape of a foot. He said the same to others and out came part of ear, then a nose. And I knew that when the mould was completely filled it would reveal the pattern, a rabbit. Meanwhile, all we could see were our individual parts, we all tend to think that our little part is right and the others are wrong. But they are all necessary.

After this we heard from Pete and Marsha about church planting movements. Some topics covered included making disciples, intentional outreach, spearheading, taking ground, prayer walking, and finding a person of peace.

More generally, some things that struck me as important were that a sovereign move of the Lord would be required, multiplication would be necessary if we are to disciple the nation, we need new spiritual fire, an experience of power, and resolute fasting and prayer. It will cost us more than we can imagine, we will require holiness, fire, a willingness to 'spy out' the land. We will also need to work together, partnering with other churches and ministries. We should look for viral growth.

Intentional evangelism was expanded, Pete suggested we might list 100 ways to evangelise and then use them all. He added that we need to sow abundantly otherwise there will be no disciples. We should also decide which group of people we are called to and ask ourselves, 'How can I catch these particular fish?'

Towards the end of the meeting we were asked to consider our goals and share them so that we can ask others to hold us to account. We need multiplication in terms of people, churches, networks and more.

A further meeting was pencilled in for Friday 14th May, and a Newforms Gathering is being planned for April 16th to 18th. For details of these meetings please check Peter's website.

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