Being the Church where we live
Fresh Expressions: Being the church where we liveBy Pamela Meeks
I recently moved with my husband and three children from a rather remote and neighborless farmhouse into a townhouse with far more neighbors than I could count! As an extrovert, I loved it, but it seemed to me that my neighborhood lacked community and care - we might be close in proximity, yes, but proximity doesn't necessarily make community. After the Vision Day at Truro Anglican Church last year, I began to see that church planting in native soil does not require lots of money or other resources. It was clear to me that most of my new neighbors are not making church a priority, so it seemed that we needed to be the church right here, on our own front porch.
I began to see that Christian community needs to be the church right where people live.
The call is we are to be like Jesus, who is God in the flesh, moving into the neighborhood (John 1:14) where people can see and know the light of the risen Christ up close and personal, even in our own neighborhood.
This kind of thinking dovetails with Fresh Expressions (FX), but it was clear I needed more help. Last November I discovered where the help could come from, a Mission Shaped Ministry (MSM), a community of support forming in Richmond.
I was excited to show up at the MSM prayer house in Richmond and meet with teams of people from Baltimore and Brunswick, Winchester and Fredericksburg, who were Baptist and Christian Missionary Alliance. Though I was the lone Anglican (so far!), I didn’t mind. Our sessions with the group were well presented and intellectually challenging. Most importantly, I found my imagination sparked in new ways and I was offered the chance to try on the ideas by articulating them back to the group. What I received were some helpful tools and new best practices that would make a difference in my ministry.
As we were from a wide geographical swath, our sessions included an overnight stay and all day Saturday. By the end of the first weekend, I was excited by the vision. But more importantly, the MSM gave me courage to try. Through the practice of actually voicing my heart to the group, I found the courage to pursue a new path of mission in my neighborhood. If you want to know more, see my blog titled “Guinea Pig Hospitality” The Mid-Atlantic Messenger 08.09.12 (Issue 23) or on www.freshexpressionsus.org.
I am grateful for MSM and am looking forward to lending a hand to launching one here in metro DC! Beginning in January 2013 and running through January 2014, a learning community is launching in the Northern Virginia/metro DC area. With two weekend retreats north of Baltimore, Maryland and five Saturdays of training in Annandale, Virginia, you will have the chance to reflect and receive a vision for for mission right where we live. You might even find yourself taking the plunge to do something new!
The Rev'd Pamela Meeks is a coordinator of Fresh Expressions in the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. Learn more about Fresh Expressions here.