It was a quick trip to the UK and back but why was I there?
You may be aware that I lived in a Christian Community for ten years. The fruit of that was what I would call an ‘integrated Christian life’ – that is a life that does not separate God stuff from life stuff. This ultimately expresses itself through households that have a language to articulate this integrated life, not as some weird super-spiritual cultish thing but as a free-flowing, grace-filled rhythm in which God is woven into everything and he becomes the leader of our lives so that, whatever is happening, we are in some way participating with him – on mission with him.
While there are reproducible principles, this is almost impossible to teach. You just know something good is happening when you see it and some people are keen to join in.
In 2003 I visited a church in England in which I saw the qualities of this shared life on mission operating within a local church. I kept in touch with them and in 2004 they formed a global movement called The Order of Mission. It was authorised by the Church of England to support and sustain the people who had been a part of that church but were now spreading all over the world. Hundreds of mostly young people scattered all over the globe to serve God with the support of the movement. Di Hooley, the Jarvises, and Dan and Jude Greenfield were all a part of that experiment.
Suffice to say a lot of hard lessons were learned in the first decade of ToM. Cheryl and I have been a part of it from the beginning and over time a slow reformation has taken place: a lot of repenting and believing, new people, a new global leader and even a new vision for the future of ToM has emerged. I was in the UK as Australia’s representative at this time of election and reformation. That’s why I was in England.
It looked pretty much like a church conference – 300 people, lots of kids, worshipping God, a bit of talking, some elections, sharing new ideas, telling stories, meeting old friends, being encouraged.
But here is the thing. The expression of ToM at St Philips is NOT to produce programmes for you to consume, or download the exact right way to be a Christian [or else], or impress you with how much better we do things than some other church. The expression of ToM at St Philips is to liberate Graham and John to plant a church in Kenya, to support James in finding his way to bring Jesus through The Common – they’re the obvious splashy things – but more so it is the many encouragements and conversations that support people engaging with their streets, workplaces and families as places where God’s rule and reign is coming. His mission is everywhere, all the time. It’s a bit messy and hard to explain but it is everyone having a part to play in being C.S.Lewis’ “little Christs” wherever you are. And it works best when its done in high-support units – families or extended friendship groups.
My vision is for you to live lives serving Jesus, moving in his unforced rhythms of grace and truth. That will always be infectious.
You can borrow a book and read about it if you wish . . . Family on Mission (Mike Breen)
Just to say, Cheryl is taking a well-earned break and she has invited me to come with her. So, Kieran is in charge and Barb will help him while I am away.