Tuesday, 29 January 2013

High Chairs, and the road to Christian Unity

We recently changed the high chairs that we use, to stackable ones, because of reduced storage space.

So we had 13 folding ones we no longer needed.  All in reasonable, used condition.

We had thought of ebaying them, but actually, why not use our opportunity to renew stuff as an opportunity to bless others?

So I emailed a few mates and asked if they needed any?

2 are making their way to a local Anglican Church, whose toddler group I attend, and 2 to our local United Reformed Church just around the corner who have a thriving "Messy Church".

2 are off to the Baptists, the Church out of which we were planted, and three to a more rural Anglican Church several miles away who have hosted many of our Alpha Course away days in their lovely facilities.

2 are off to members of our local Newfrontiers Church here in Shrewsbury, and 2 are going to members of our congregation who responded to an offer on our Church facebook page.

So there we have it.

High chairs.

A blessing shared.

Several different Churches.

Many friends.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

We are Christ Central

Carrying on the discussion about the future of Newfrontiers, comes my own Church.

We are overseen by Jeremy Simpkins who provides friendship, encouragement and challenge to us as an eldership team.

In the past different people have looked after our Church and in a transient movement like newfrontiers this tended to change as people became involved in new things, both here and abroad.

Now we are in a really fruitful place relationally and receiving lots of gifts from a network of Churches, and hopefully being in some small way a blessing to others.

So when Jeremy was recognised to develop his ministry nothing really changed for us.  "Christ Central" is the name given to this work, part of the newfrontiers global family.

I am looking forward to their website going live at christcentralchurches.org soon, and will try to make a regional celebration meeting in Derby next month http://jubilee.org.uk/celebration/.

More locally we relate to other churches within our Borderlands region, Shropshire, Staffordhsire and North Wales, through a fortnightly prayer meeting and working together in different ways on the ground, with a camp coming up this summer called the Borderlands Camp.

I don't know how this journey will all end, but back in 2009 Dave Bish had a lot of this nailed in this post http://thebluefish.org/2009/07/of-apostolic-spheres-methodology-of.html, and with that in mind fair play to Terry Virgo, he did what he said he would do.

Friday, 11 January 2013

The Future of Newfrontiers in the UK

Terry Virgo did a very good job of explaining what was happening within Newfrontiers in this blog series here

The Future of Newfrontiers

And as Andrew Wilson expresses well, it is really important to counter the myths and explain that Newfrontiers is not breaking up

Yet there are big challenges ahead.  The challenges I forsee are numerous, and four of specific concern to me are:

1) What about Churches who don't feel they "fit" into the new teams being developed?  As in, if your primary relationships were with people who are no longer in a driving seat, how do you transition?

2) What happens when there is missional / theological divergence amongst teams?

3) How does a family co-ordinate its independent lives?  What bits do we still do together?

4) What does it mean for some of the massive Churches who may feel they have lots of gifts within themselves and are therefore less reliant on external relationships?

This whole process is going to require a lot of prayer, a lot of grace and a lot of humility from people as they seek to find where they fit into the future.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Farewell, Newfrontiers UK

At the turn of the year, Newfrontiers UK, the UK part of the "apostolic sphere" of Terry Virgo, formally ceased to exist in it's previous form.  While the relationships and future plans had been under development for a couple of years, that was the moment, when something really final happened.

"Newfrontiers" is now a collection of "apostolic spheres" all over the world, of which there are six relating in the UK, around familiar (within newfrontiers) names of Jeremy Simpkins, Mike Betts, Guy Miller, Dave Devenish, David Holden and Steve Oliver.

Names for these new church groupings have sprung up: "Relational Mission", "Catalyst",  "Christ Central".

Many of these spheres involve Churches all over the world; USA, Dubai, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, France, the list goes on.

Other places in the world have seen apostolic teams released: such as John Kpipi in Ghana, Edwards Buria in Kenya and PJ Smyth in South Africa, and several more.

Out of these come new conferences, new Church planting, new Ephesians 4 ministries.

But what impresses me most of all, is what it actually says about newfrontiers.

So often people accused newfrontiers of being a denomination by any other name.  Which it wasn't.  And isn't.  And now a myriad of new Church movements spin off from what we were together, it proves it once and for all.  Instead of the legal, the bureaucratic, the centralised, all that is left is the relationships.
(EDIT: I am not saying this is a fair reflection of what a denomination is!)

Out of one person's ministry comes tenfold of what he started 40 years ago.  That is real fruit.

He could have appointed the next "pope" to rule over the whole thing.  That is what many people thought would happen when he handed over to a "successor".  But he didn't.  He released his children to forge their own future.

But what now?  It reminds me of the moment when parents stop hosting the family Christmas, and the children become the hosts.  In this case spiritual children held together by common ancestry and identity, but forging their own lives and destinies, while still occasionally meeting up and carrying the family name.

I am not sure many Church movements have ever done it this way before.  I don't know what will happen.  I can see challenges ahead.

But ultimately, I think it's a really, really exciting time.