We just finished our 10th Sunday Zoom this past weekend. We had around 30 regulars attend our pilot program over the 10 weeks. The Zooms were a mixture of mentoring material, guest speakers, and theological (missional) themes sprinkled in each week. Guests, ranged from several countries, including Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, US, Canada, New Zealand, Poland, Lithuania, and even Ethiopia!
As we journeyed together, it became clear that the uniting cultural ‘glue’ that kept everyone coming back, was a hunger for genuine, vulnerable space to process together what the Spirit is doing in each of our lives, and learn from one another. There was a growing trust emerging from the time together, no arguing, but respect, fellow sojourners simply wanting to learn and grow in their faith. So refreshing!
As the dust settles on this little exploratory project, I wanted to jot down the things still fresh in my mind. We finished our final Zoom with a unique and meaningful moment where we each were able to reflect and share what had been a blessing over the past 10 weeks, and our individual hopes moving forward, if any.
So, here’s what I learned:
- Most from our group, though coming from a variety of church backgrounds, are currently going through significant transitions. The world is reshaping, and what it means to be ‘be’ the church in our day is definitely causing many to rethink, and re-calibrate their faith journey. Specifically, most of our group is in process, or has already left local church structures in search for something more engaging with others and the world God loves. This is a global trend, the Christendom structures are no longer relevant in a post-Christendom, post-modern world. This is exciting, unless you are clinging to old structures and believing them to be timeless reflections or your faith is unhealthily synthesized to certain cultural religious models.
- Spiritual formation is a genuine longing in each of our hearts that transcends language, culture, age, and gender. We’re all longing to be growing, surrendering into deeper forms of faith, and the mystery of relationship with God and our fellow humanity. When we each see Jesus, there’s a cross-cultural hunger to be formed into His image of love.
- Safety is a lacking ingredient in many religious and public spheres. Having an opinion, or raising certain questions in our current world is a risky endeavor. This secular humanistic and now dominant culture in the west is not loving, it’s self-righteous, unforgiving and mean. Being ‘right’ instead of being ‘kind’ dominates so much of the worldly spheres, including religion. Having a space where believers are accepted in their weakness, allowed to be wrong, is a genuine hunger among our group. Where there’s safe space, learning takes place. To put it another way, where there’s laughing, there’s learning. To be a true ‘disciple’ is an ongoing process right? That means unlearning in many cases, as we re-learn forward. Safe space in dialogue, a unifying hunger of our group.
- God is so surprising. I had a certain trajectory in mind for these zooms, and I began to feel a little discouraged when things didn’t line up with my vision. This became a blessing in disguise however as the Lord brought in several friends and connected hearts in some really cool ways. The networking for mission, and areas of interest has begun and I’m really blessed to think of the ways the Spirit is moving in some new relationships that were sparked by the Zoom meetings. Sometimes we are asked simply to do our part, and entrust the rest to God.
- You can do multi-language, simultaneous online meetings, but it’s not easy! It was really cool to merge several cultures, but it does have its limitations. Everyone loved the interactive small groups, but could only do those in their own language, thus prohibiting deeper connections cross-culturally. Also, the spiritual practices of listening, and various lectio divina/imago practices had to be done, because Deborah was the only one familiar with leading them, in english with translation which isn’t optimum.
As a group, there’s a bond definitely formed, and forming. It became obvious that everyone was keen to continue meeting, but just how that will look and when, is something we are taking to prayer this week. We’ve discussed for example hosting specific Zoom’s, like for spiritual listening only, or innovation and startup discussions, so that those truly inspired or interested by certain themes can connect and go deeper in learning together. I hold this all loosely, the Lord will have to provide some more facilitators as it was a lot of work, and I’m about to dive into two more courses at Fuller, finishing my degree this summer!
I believe God will, and we’ll continue to explore our way forward as a little tribe of international Jesus followers, on mission inside His, from every tribe, tongue and nation! We invite you to join us. We won’t be promoting the events and meetings as we have on social media however, you’ll have to join our Whatsapp Group to learn what’s coming down the pipe.
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Nothing will ever replace in-person, face-to-face interaction. We love our local missional community, God’s people will forever gather in local spaces. The global church, however, is reshaping to meet a new global reality. It’s a joy to explore the leading of the Spirit together and break out of old patterns from an old world. To live is to adapt.