While working at Discipleship Ministries in Church Planting Resourcing, I became acutely aware of the fact that church planting was not that different from a church that is attempting to engage in a new beginning – both are about having a keen sense for the work God is already doing and getting on board. In Seven Seasons of Planting a New Church, a strategic paper written by members of Path1, we find the following regarding the Season of Visioning:
The soil in which God sows the seed of a new church is in the planter or planting church’s heart. Vision offers a shared picture of a preferred future, inspired by God and often first articulated by leaders and then affirmed by God’s people. A vison for starting a new church may arise from a need to reach a geographical area, cultural group, or specific community of people.
New church planters are encouraged to love their community by living in and among its members. Without a group of people to gather, a planter must engage their community with great intentionality to find the leaders needed to launch the new church.
Those in established churches love their community as well by finding new ways to engage its members and form meaningful relationships. With all that has transpired this past year - including so many changes in how ministry is done during this COVID era - time and energy spent engaging one’s community anew can prove to be wise and bring about new knowledge of how it has changed.
COVID is still well entrenched in our daily lives as it continues to limit our ability to meet face to face. We can claim this moment as a time for preparation for the future. I would like to recommend a book that clergy and laity can read in preparation for when the opportunity eventually arises to engage our community intimately and purposefully.
Leonard Sweet and Michael Adam Beck’s book Contextual Intelligence: Unlocking the Ancient Secret to Mission on the Front Lines (2019) helps us to use contextual intelligence to connect with our community. Like emotional intelligence and cultural intelligence, contextual intelligence is a skill that can be learned and continually improved upon.
I am setting up time for conversation with clergy and laity to discuss this book. If you’d like to be a part of this conversation, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at srodriguez [at] wocumc.org. I look forward to hearing from you!
-Sam Rodriguez, Director of Faith Formation & Community Engagement