I am feeling pretty caged up at the moment as I’m conscious I am holding so much ‘stuff’ in my head … and that’s not a good place for a reflective practitioner to find themselves in. I need to pause and reflect which is pretty much what I use this blog for, and of course I love the comments from others who have great insights that both challenge and bless.
So; to start emptying the head …. Last week I was at Breakout. This was a highlight as it was space with other pioneers, some I know and trust who have become good friends, and others that I got to know over the three days and hope will become good friends. The conference was good for many reasons.
Having others from the gathering there was a first for me, and its hard to put into the words the mix of joy and excitement I felt being there with others from our community. It sounds soppy, but it made the time way even more valuable than I could have envisaged. Seeing members of the gathering naturally linking with others was such a cool experience. It feels as though something has changed for the better, but more on that will come from another post.
Some of the stuff delivered in the sessions at Breakout was really good as well. The topic was ‘discipleship’ which I believe is very key to pioneers … although I do find myself personally questioning whether the set sessions were AS valuable as the natural conversations that were had outside set session times. (Is it just me that thinks we should have a conference of like minded people with a ‘topic’ who then just chat and join various conversations happening in different rooms, or preferably bars!?)
I was particularly challenged by an observation from Stuart Murray Williams. I can’t remember his exact words but he said something like; ‘Jesus said go and make disciples and I will build my church …. but I wonder whether we have reversed that, so that we try to build church and kind of hope disciples grow through some form of osmosis.’ I was challenged by that and the statement has been buzzing around my mind for a good few days now.
As an OPM I am tasked with creating new ways of being church with others. That task can sometimes become clouded with a focus shifting away from disciples to models and styles of church. I think it is going to be an ongoing query and question that I chat with others in the gathering about. If we make disciples, whatever that means, does church, whatever that may be, just simply follow?
I was also challenged to think about the ‘how’ of discipleship. I have always sat uncomfortably with published materials in this area, but I guess I am not sure why. I think it is the language of power that has put me off. It’s the language that kind of says a variety of things like: ‘I know what I’m doing so you listen to me.’, ‘We are the experts and so we will impart knowledge of how to be a good disciple to you.’ ‘You just do as we say and you will be fine.’ That has never seemed quite right to me. I wonder from what Stuart was saying if this needs to be more of a joint journey type thing, where the language is more of learning and travelling together, where there is a vulnerability as we also share the stuff we struggle with. I am thinking aloud, but this seem to make more sense to me.
Another great thing about Breakout for me is that it reminds me I am not alone in my situation. When you work in a diocese where most people you work with are on a stipend you can easily start to think you are alone in the reality of your calling. AtBreakout there were plenty of pioneers who have opted out of paid ministry to developing their fresh expressions or communities. I found that to be both exciting and encouraging, and also useful as we shared the make up of out various income streams!
But … most of all the overwhelming best thing of Breakout was catchin
g up with friends …. thanks all of you …. till we meet again (which for those in the gathering will be pretty soon!)