STOP, LOOK, LISTEN: Strategies for growing and sustaining your Messy Church team
I wonder – How do you spend the time when you meet as a Messy Church team? As I spend time with Messy Church leaders it is apparent that the main focus of energy in their team meetings is to plan the programme for the next Messy Church event. Whilst this is essential it can become an end in itself. I want to offer a different starting point from which the planning can emerge. The starting point aims to encourage you personally and to grow and develop the team in your Messy Church ministry.
For some years Messy Church teams and critics have been asking: How do we build on the usual monthly Messy Church event? How do we grow disciples of Jesus in the Messy Church context? How can we deepen the relationships we are developing? Eight Messy Church leaders in the Wellington Diocese are on a two year journey with 3DM, (3 Dimensional Movement), exploring discipleship and leadership in the Messy Church context. Like yourselves we are passionate about Messy Church and want to see God develop this ministry.
Through 3DM we are recognising that if our energy as a team is primarily focussed on the Messy Church event we won’t be intentionally growing disciples. If we are to be more intentional it needs to begin with us as the leaders and our team. Some 25 years ago I was part of a staff team in a large Anglican parish in the UK. As a team we did life together; through prayer, reflection, business, social, vision days away and what became affectionately known as the weekly ‘staff splurge’, in other words, ‘stop, look and listen’ to what God is saying and then agreeing what we were going to do about it. There was a high level of accountability in an environment of trust and support. The church flourished both numerically and in growing new leaders and disciples. Over time I began to recognise that the staff modelled an authentic discipleship in a way that was caught and not just taught. It was attractive and infectious.
I want to offer The Learning Circle from our 3DM journey as a ‘map’, a tool, to enable you as a team to reflect, listen, pray and develop. This tool was expressed in the life of Jesus and in His relationship with His disciples, see Mark chap 1. The Learning Circle is triggered by a ‘kairos’ moment. A kairos moment is when we recognise God breaking into our circumstances; it can be either a positive or negative experience. (See: Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen, or www.3dmeurope.com)
Aim to meet regularly as a team. The eight Messy Church leaders on the 3DM journey meet every fortnight with an occasional overnighter. Our focus is on character, ‘What is God doing in each of our lives?’ and competence, ‘What is God doing in our leadership & Messy Church teams?’ We have discovered that our time together is important and precious, we wouldn’t miss it, even when it’s involved one of our group joining the meeting on their cell phone in the car. Commitment is high. When you come together, spend some time catching up with each other. The phrases I often use are, ‘What’s on top?’, or ‘What’s going on?’, or ‘How’s it going?’
The Learning Circle 1-3 – Repent, re-think, re-consider. 1. Observe: To make changes and grow we need to observe where we are. This means taking note of our reactions, emotions and thoughts. In your most recent Messy Church event, where did you recognise God at work? What was encouraging? What was disappointing? What did you observe that had an impact on you? 2. Reflect: This means asking yourself why you reacted or felt the way you did. It’s about being honest within the group. ‘Why did that happen?’, ‘How did it make me feel?’, ‘Why does God want me to notice that?’, ‘What does he want me / us to learn?’ 3. Discuss: Discussthese thoughts and feelings and listen to one another. This will enable you, both individually and as a team, to grow and to discern where God is leading. Offer words of encouragement, stories, scriptures and prophetic insights that speak into the situation. A good question to answer together is, ‘What do we think God wants us to do about it?’ The Learning Circle 4-6 – Believe, acting on what God is saying. 4. Plan: After reflecting and discussing, the next step is to plan. Pray, discuss, consider, ‘What next?’ 5. Accountability: If the plan is going to be implemented and succeed there needs to be accountability. Pray for each other and for the team. When you next meet you can reflect and keep up to date with how the plan is going. This will enable a new reflection and you can use the Learning Circle again. 6. Action: Once a plan has been established the next step to take is to act. This will inevitably involve faith, risk and change.
Kairos moments are opportunities in life to learn from God.
They can be either positive or negative.
We learn by going round the Learning Circle
Each time we go round the circle, we learn to be more like Jesus and how to do what He wants. This is what disciples do.