End of 2012 review…

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Last week I sat down and tried to figure out where I am (currently) spending my time and what is next for me as I move forward.

I think it is good at year’s end for me to do this.  I had originally committed to give this new venture three years to see if it was a good match for my passion and if this is where God would have me serve.  After 20-years in the local church, I was looking for a new challenge and way to serve.

So, as I look back over the year and as I looked at all the places I am spending time, I can see that my work is focused on making disciples.  As I no longer run a local church, I find I can really focus in on this one key area. I am finding expression for that in four areas.

I see all of these things under the House Church Network.

First, I am helping people start house churches.  These are micro-communities of 8-20 people who do three things: make disciples, care as community, live missionally.  We have trained 12 groups and currently count 7 meeting regularly as house churches (excited that one is looking like a neo-monastic plant at USC). Five additional groups who have received training are still looking at how to make the transition. Two never got off the ground (which is fine, I figure we’d have less than 50% launch rate, so this seems good).

Second, I am gathering a group of college age young adults to make disciples, care as community and live missionally.  This has been a challenge, but I deeply connect with this age and so hope to continue to figure out how to be of service here.  We are meeting for a party this month and then starting in January I figure we will have 2-3 gatherings a month.

Third, I am working with local churches to take a group (8-10) of their attendees (young adults to senior adults, new people to the faith and folks who grew up in the church and everyone in between) and enter into an 8-week group for discipleship formation called the Discipleship Huddle.  

The master plan is there are three Huddles sections offered, each is 8 weeks and I figure only half of the folks would continue on to successive Huddles.

Here are some of the goals – Huddle 1: participants can hear God in their lives and are moving in the direction of living more like Jesus.  Huddle 2: Participants are learning their gifting for ministry, are hearing God’s calling and are starting to respond. Huddle 3: Participants have started ministries or are strengthening ministries and this is on-going coaching and encouragement.

Forth, I am coaching a couple pastors & churches that are experiencing transition and/or starting new ministries.  And while these are traditional churches we are working on incorporating new models of reaching people and making disciples.

As I look at this year, I do see movement forward.  And I am working on living into the reality that it will take a while to move things forward.

At the same time, I am wondering how to get the word out more?  I would love to do more Huddles but getting churches/pastors to share the information about Huddles with the people in the pews and to point them in my direction is tough.  People are busy and this is a different model.  Even though many of the local UMC clergy know me, I think it is a challenge to think about a pastor from outside the congregation resourcing our churches like this.

Our fall huddle was canceled and I while it is too soon to say, I am wondering if January will be a go. I think I need to give more attention to visiting pastors and getting on their agenda, speaking during announcements, etc. which I haven’t been great at.  That might also help my being able to share that I see myself as a partner in ministry with them.  I really believe in this idea to build local churches for the work of ministry.

I also wonder how to get the word out on helping people start house churches. Actually, this is less of an issue, as I do find that people find me. In the course of this past month I had 4 conversations with people looking at doing this so it does seem this is getting out there.  Of course for every conversation there is much needed discernment and then training–so it does take a while, but that is fine and feels appropriate.

I’d also love to partner more with local churches around young adult ministry.  I see what we are doing as strengthening this age group and not as “competition” as the reality is very few churches have college age groups.

So, at year’s end, I am committing to another year and setting some goals that invite you to join me in prayer around. Seeing these goals accomplished would confirm for me that this is where I should be spending my energy.

My goal for 2013 is to have 10-12 house churches up and running (3-5 new ones) and to have 3 Huddles happen in 2013.  I’d also like to coach 2 new churches this year and have 10 regular attendees at the Young Adult gatherings.  I feel positive that this is the direction God is leading.

As 2012 ends I am aware of my own growth around being more patient with the unfolding of ministries and learning how to enjoy the daily (slower) rhythm of life as I listen to God’s leading.  I look forward to 2013.

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