Godsend is about a 21st century way to follow Jesus. You need four pieces of kit for the journey.
Godsend is about a 21st century way of following Jesus
Ask God to help you:
- Find a friend in your passion, network, neighborhood, workplace or where you spend lots of time
- Discover a simple way to love people round you so that you can all live a fuller life
- Deepen friendships with them
- Share your faith, as part of helping each other toward a richer life
- Start a new Christian community where you are.
Once you have found one or more people to journey with you, you need four items for the journey:
- A compass to point you in the right direction
- A map to plan your route
- The address of your destination.
Item 1. A compass
This will steer you in the right direction. It comprises four values:
- Engage with people outside the church. Be missional.
- Love them in a way that fits the context and share Jesus in a manner they can understand. Be contextual.
- Encourage people to be open to Christ and allow him to form them in his likeness. Be formational.
- As people come to faith, help them – where they are – to become a Christian community connected to the wider church. You could become a new congregation, community or group within a local church, or sometimes a new church in your own right. Be ecclesial.
Sorted emerged among teenagers in Bradford, England. It was:
- Missional. The teenagers didn’t go to church
- Contextual. Activities, worship etc. were shaped by what the teenagers were in to
- Formational. Teenagers were formed in the Christian faith
- Ecclesial. They didn’t start going to an existing church. They became a new Christian community, with links to the wider church.
These four values are one way of telling the Christian story.
- The missionary God goes out to the world in love.
- He becomes a human being in Jesus.
- Jesus gathers a community to form disciples across the world.
- His followers do this by multiplying churches.
- When you start a new Christian community, you live out the Christian story.
Item 2. A map
This loving-first cycle is like a map. It helps you plan your journey, recognise how far you’ve travelled, and decide where to go next.
As with any map, you can choose a wide variety of routes, but they have these features in common:
- You listen lovingly to God and to people round you
- Through listening, you prayerfully discover a simple way to love these people
- You build community with them in the process
- As trust deepens, you find natural opportunities to share Jesus together
- A new Christian community with the character of church takes shape among those coming to faith, where they are
- New believers repeat the cycle in their own way.
All this is underpinned by prayer and connection to the wider church. Of course, life is more messy than a diagram! So the circles may overlap, pile on top of each other, or sometimes happen in a different order. Each circle continues as the next is added – hence the overlaps.
The first three circles help people experience a fuller life. As part of that, those who want can get to know Jesus through the second three circles. Don’t feel you have to get to the end of the cycle! The main thing is that listen and love come first and motivate everything else.
Joe Pinnear in Luton, England is an example:
- He listened to men who were into football. He hung out with them on Sunday nights, when they were at a loose end
- He loved them by bringing everyone together
- This deepened their sense of community
- They share Jesus as they sit round in their football gear before the match. They talk about Scripture and God’s role in their lives.
- This is laying the foundation for church – for a new worshipping community, connected to the Christian family.
Thirst was a new Christian community among parents taking children to school. They met during the day when their children and partners couldn’t come, so they repeated the cycle. They started an all-age community on Saturday afternoons, open to everyone.
Item 3. Food
Without nourishment, you’ll fall by the wayside. Discovery Bible Study can be food for both you and those who join you.
A group of Christians advertised free canoeing on Sunday mornings. They paid for the canoe hire, and families enjoyed canoeing together. Sometimes over a picnic, the sessions finished with an all-age activity based on a Bible story or theme.
Tim then invited anyone interested to ‘food and Bible story’ on Tuesday evenings. ‘Bible story’ included asking these four questions:
- If this story happened today, what would it look like?
- What is the story showing or telling me?
- Could it make a difference to my life? How?
- Did it make a difference? How?
Try using these questions in your core team as you discuss stories about Jesus and ones he told. Immerse yourselves in each story over several sessions.
Trying these questions, perhaps one per meeting, will give you the experience to help inquirers. Discovery Bible Study is your packed lunch to be shared with others.
(For other approaches, see 12. Explore faith/Guide).
Item 4. The address of your destination
You need to know where you are going! The address is:
These overlapping relationships are:
- With God directly in prayer, worship, and study;
- With the outside world;
- With the wider church; and
- Within the new community itself.
Deepening these relationships will make your community an authentic part of the Christian family.
You’ll be part of a ‘mixed economy’ church, or ‘blended church’. New and existing forms of church will exist alongside each other in relationships of mutual respect and support.
Anyone can do this!
You don’t need:
- A degree in theology
- Special training
- An evangelism course
- Lots of Christian experience. In fact, you can do this if you have just become a Christian – or even if you are not yet a Christian and want to give Jesus a try!
But you do need the Spirit’s help! So keep praying! Remember: not everyone is called to this. And if you are, it may be for only a season.
Once called, here’s your kit for the journey
The compass shows you the direction, the map helps you plan your route, food nourishes you and those who join you, and the address helps you to know when you have reached your destination. Don’t use the kit slavishly. Improvise, and you’ll follow Jesus in a 21st century way.
Katharine describes how she discovered a simple way to love people round her.
Rachel gives a great example of a 21st century way of following Jesus.
Read Matthew 28.16-20 (the Great Commission).
Re-read it, keeping in mind the ‘Basics’ you have just explored. Then, using the Discovery Bible Study questions, discuss:
- If this story happened today, what would it look like?
- What is the story showing or telling us?
- Could it make a difference to our lives? How?
- Before you next meet, spend time pondering the story and the discussion. Then, instead of asking “Did the story make a difference?” ask: “What thoughts has God prompted since we last met?”
- Describe an aspect of your life that involves people who don’t go to church – your work, family, friends you hang out with, your neighbourhood, or an activity or interest you feel passionate about.
- Imagine God came to you in a dream. Imagine he said you could be part of a new Christian community in that part of your life, and the community could take any form you wanted. What would that community look like?
- How would it love other people in that context?
- What would people find attractive in that community?
- What next step might you take to turn that dream into reality?
- Download the free fresh expressions-stories app (from Apple or from Google Play) and post a question. What question would you like to ask others who have been involved in a new Christian community?
© Fresh Expressions Ltd. The Godsend contents
are used here with permission from fxresourcing.