We have met twice so far to discuss the future vision of LifeBridge. In January we would like to have a much more intensive talk, evaluating the pros and cons of the model that was outlined at the last meeting.
LifeBridge Visioning Day
Saturday, January 17
9:30am – 12:00pm
Location: Forest Hills Baptist Church
Here is a summary of the concepts.
In every area of life, as one grows and develops, they need to be given the opportunity to step out and take on responsibility. This is a critical step to ongoing growth and effectiveness.
Example: As a child grows older, there comes a time when that child must leave the nest and assume responsibility for their life and make a difference apart from their parents. Though there is still ongoing support and encouragement from the parents, they need to feel the weight and responsibility for their own lives and what they hope to accomplish. It is only in this way that the person can fully grow into the adult they are supposed to be. If the child simply stays at home, they will eventually stagnate and cease to mature as they should.
This can happen to us spiritually within the church context as well. We spend years being discipled and equipped, but then there comes a time when we need to start assuming responsibility for the growth of the kingdom for ourselves. What happens in the typical North American church is that people get discipled to the stage where they are ready to take a step of faith and embrace mission, but instead, they simply find ministry work, back in the already existing local church. There is no risk, there is no real sense of weighty responsibility, there is no need to walk by faith and trust God for the impossible, there is no bearing of “much fruit”.
There is not much excitement or sense of fulfilment in this, when you have so much more potential. What happens is that you reach a point where there is no more growth, no more stretching one’s self, no more sense of excitement in what you are doing. Sure, you’re doing “ministry”, but there is something missing. You were created to bear “much fruit” and that simply doesn’t happen when you play it safe. I think some of us at LifeBridge have been feeling this sense that something is missing, that the original excitement seems to have waned.
We always feel insecure about stepping out in faith. We always prefer the safety of what we know and to some extent can control. Even the early church by default stayed local and did not embrace mission until God allowed persecution to come which then caused them to flee and take the gospel beyond their borders.
We love to play it safe and comfortable, but this is not the mission that Jesus calls us to. We are not here to be comfortable; we are here to spread the gospel, starting with our current circles of influence and then strategizing beyond those to others who have not yet heard the gospel. Our calling is a great calling, and it requires us living by faith, trusting Jesus to provide every step of the way.
When we do this, life becomes exciting, our faith becomes real, we grow in ways we could never imagine, our relationship with God becomes fresh and vital, our prayer life surges and we see the fruit of transformed lives. Who doesn’t want this? Sometimes the issue isn’t that we’re not willing to step out in faith and embrace the mission, sometimes the issue is we’re simply not sure how to go about it.
How do we get there? What changes need to take place? How do you figuratively encourage people out of the nest to start risking everything for the kingdom?
At our last Vision night we outlined the model expressed in the books “And” and the “Tangible Kingdom” by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. Here is an overview of the summary.
On mission with friends:
Picture gathering together with 6-10 friends, all who have a desire to see others come to faith. You meet weekly to study the Bible and support one another, but you also discuss as a group how you can start building into the lives of others in your community, work place, sports teams etc.
You start looking for ways to serve these people when they have needs. You start throwing dinner parties or BBQ’s on a regular basis and inviting some of these people to come and just get to know one another. This could be a 2 year process of just befriending people and building legitimate friendships.
The chances are, through this process, as they gradually begin to learn more of your faith, they may start to ask spiritual questions and even desire to attend your bible study.
Is it really unrealistic to think that after 2 years of investing in people, caring for people, being there for people, that that small group of 8 might turn into 16. How hard is that? Yet, if every group in the church did that, the church “community” would double its size every 2 years or so. But more importantly, lives would be changed through new relationship with Jesus Christ.
The broader church:
These mini churches would not be alone. There is still the larger gathering of God’s people, where all these mini-churches would come to celebrate God together and be equipped for the mission. The role of the larger entity would be to provide:
- A sense of kingdom unity
- Leadership oversight and accountability
- Leadership equipping
- Administration and finances
- Global missions
- Children’s ministry
The goal on Jan 17 is to discuss the pros and cons of this model and to raise ideas suggestions about the potential future for LifeBridge. We are not committed to the above model. We are merely using it as a basis for discussion, to help shape where we may head.
It would be helpful to read the “Tangible Kingdom” to help get a better grasp of the concept from the people who are currently doing it. We encourage every LifeBridge Partner to attend and any other LifeBridge attendees who are invested in the future of LifeBridge.
We encourage you to set this time aside, find child care, and pray for this meeting as we seek God’s leading.