The unfolding story of the Missional calling in Southern Africa: Our journey thusfar …

Written by Frederick on . Posted in Conferences


 

The first two years were exciting, and for us as project leaders intimidating and daunting. We were all on a journey without knowing where it would lead us and whether it would work. Theo Marais will tell you that he realized we invited congregations on a journey that we had not been on – and quite frankly did not have the slightest idea what it was all about. You should ask him why he joined?

After two years the anxiety was mounting for us as the management team – we could not see results. Pat Kiefert and Pat Taylor-Ellison came and did a presentation on hitting the wall, and that left us, as it felt at that stage, with a bloedneus.

And then an unexpected turnabout: It was a pastors’ meeting on the Friday in the Western Cape. The 30 plus of us were sharing our experiences and after we had finished going round the circle, I was about to ask the next question when Johan van der Merwe asked me: “And you Frederick, how do you feel?” Before I could gather my thoughts, I said: “Johan I have never been so unsure; I cannot sleep at night; I do not have any answers any more; I do not know if this is going to work.” He then replied: “Thank you, Frederick, this is the most helpful thing you have said on this journey.” And there, at that moment the real conversation started. A conversation of partners who did not know but who listened intently to each other – helping each other to discover how God is working in and through our vulnerability.

It was a turning point for me to realize that it is not you who take people on a journey, it is the Holy Spirit leading us when we dwell in the Word and listen to each other when we come together as a faith community.

Slowly the conversations started to turn, cluster after cluster we started to realize the transformation we were looking for was already happening to us, on condition that we were willing to allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes when we dwell in the Word and in the world. I can still remember the feeling when I first realized that the work of the Holy Spirit is a reality in our present time and in every local setting. At first I did not trust myself to use Trinitarian language to describe it – and tried to explain it in terms of dynamics process – and then lose it. Later on I started using the language and, in that situation, expecting to experience God at work – it was there all the time.

After three years the missional culture started to settle amongst us and we were ready to start new clusters. Gordon invited people on the journey all the time and two new clusters were formed in the Western Cape and in Gauteng. Synods, like Highveld, started to show an interest. BM gave us a grant to print our material and translate Pat Kiefert’s book. The Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University came to us and with them we developed an MTh programme to build missional leadership capacity.

 

And then we hit the second wall! We could not build enough capacity at the management office to run the partnership effectively. Our money dwindled and we realized that we had to rethink our whole operation. Looking back, I think this was the point where the real incluturation happened. We made two decisions: we would only be able to survive if all of us were willing to serve as volunteers and secondly we needed to empower the regions to take control of their own affairs in the regions.

It was painful for us to end Gordon’s contract with the partnership. However, we had to down-size. In Africa, we realized, we have to learn how to build missional systems without money, and how to build networks of people who are willing to carry the vision not as an extra thing they are paid to do, but as part of what they are already doing. That was when we were forced to inculcate missional thinking and practices into our excising systems.


Concluding remarks:

Where are we now? 2009 is a year full of celebrations. We celebrate Calvin’s 500th birthday this year. At Stellenbosch we celebrate the 150th year of the Theology Seminary. These are such big events that our celebration of the five years of PMC in Southern Africa is almost insignificant. It should serve us a warning that what we do this week is within a much larger historical perspective. In the tradition of H Richard Niebuhr, I see my task as not to provide you with a historical overview of events in the formation,  founding and growth of the SAPMC, but to ask questions about God, and to be more specific about how God’s Reign breaks into historical events, into the everyday lives of ordinary people in Southern Africa. I do this with great humility. It is not our history, it is not our church, it is not our kingdom, it is God’s story, the Kingdom of God and, of course, God’s people.

The breaking in of the Reign of God

It is today 20 years ago, on the 9th of November 1989, that the Berlin wall fell. It is no coincidence that we gather on such an important historical day. We all know that it changed our lives in South Africa significantly. The unfolding of dramatic and fundamental events took place immediately before the breaking down of the Berlin wall, not only in Europe, but also in South Africa. The political climate in our country changed significantly and paved the way for FW de Klerk to unban the ANC and free political prisoners – including Nelson Mandela. The rest is history.
When the Reign of God breaks in it takes us on journeys that we cannot imagine. When the Kingdom of God is near, as Luke 10 teaches us, we can ignore it and in doing that, destroy ourselves, or be converted by the event. To be honest, how many of us would have received the peace from these 70 non-ordained strangers?
After much reflection, I think the best way to describe the unfolding story of SAPMC is as the journey of people who try to understand where and how God’s Reign is breaking into the world and how we are continuously converted or changed by this breaking in of God’s Reign.
I want to conclude with four conversions that came to my mind while reflecting on the unfolding story of SAPMC

 

1. Conversion from the church to God … who owns the harvest – the ecclesiastical conversion

The missional calling is not an ecclesiastical but a theological vision. It is about God, not about the church. It is not a survival of church growth package; it is about a re-discovering of God. According to Bosch: Mission is not the task of the church – it is an attribute of God. We have been converted from focusing on our own efforts to a focus on the Missional God who is not only present, but continuously breaking into our reality through the work of the Holy Spirit. This conversion has everything to do with the matter of agency; who is the agent at work and who is participating in that? Our conversion was a discovery that we do not have to bring the energy, it is not about our wisdom, it is not about us, it is about God, the primary agent, and we invited to participate in what God is undertaking.
The irony is that the harvest is plentiful. God’s harvest is plentiful, it might be that the harvest of the church is currently small, but if we keep on looking we will discover a harvest waiting for us to be harvested.

2. Conversion from ideas about God towards a journey with God. Where He intended to go – the theological conversion

This is not about understanding God; it is about journeying with God while practising spiritual disciplines. I remember so many theological discussions where we tried to understand, frantically defending our positions when our experience of what God is doing amongst us does not fit into the existing theological frames. And so it should be. We should continuously be converted from our fixed ideas about God – as if we can at all understand God – towards a new attitude of expecting to be surprised by God.
If this change of attitude does not happen, then we as the church, as theologians and ministers and leaders, will remain the stumbling-blocks that prevent our faith communities to participate in the coming of the Kingdom.

3. Conversion from power to vulnerability – like lambs among wolfs … the personal conversion

Mission was not a new concept to any of us. We all understood that the church should reach out across its boundaries, but it was most of the time a power movement from those who have, to those who do not have. The missional vision was submissive to that, and it challenged us to follow Jesus into His vulnerability – to empty ourselves from the power that we inherited as church when we plunge a community without power. (Phil 2:5) Then we are confronted by our unwillingness, or even worse, our inability to interact with people without our power position in the church. But it was in putting down the power tools of the church that new communities has emerges.

4. Conversion from extraordinary to the ordinary … eating and drinking that every day is provided for us: the conversion to public life

We stumbled across the habit of dwelling in the World it our effort to reflect on how God is present in our ordinary public lives. And what wonderful discoveries have we made? God was waiting for us everywhere, if we only had eyes to see and ears to listen. The irony, wonderful irony, is that the Holy Spirit is at work in the ordinary rhythms of every day. When we work, when we eat, “eating and drinking” that every day provides. The extraordinary is that the Missio Dei is present in the ordinary of the everyday public life of our communities. God is at work in the streets and shops, the offices and the construction sites waiting for us to participate in what God is already doing. There is no such thing as a spiritual live apart from our daily lives; the continuous incarnation of God is taking place in every town en city. There is no such thing as a ecclesial calling that is not send into the world.

During the conference you will hear story after story of our discovery of unexpected  in breaking of the Kingdom and the self conversions that we as congregations had to go through to participate in what God is doing.

DVD Living the Missional Calling

Written by Frederick on . Posted in News

 

  • Frederick Marais The emergance of our Missional Calling
  • Pat Keifert  Receiving Breakthroughs in missional faithfulness
  • Marius Nel  Read the Bible as a people called and send
  • Danie Mouton To plunge or not to plunge- when a congregation cross their boundaries
  • Pat Keifert  How is god transforming our congregations?
  • Theo Marais ans Eben Moories The Missional Calling took me on a yourney of personal tranformation

Four missional conversions

Written by Frederick on . Posted in News

1. Conversion from the church to God…who owns the harvest- the ecclesial conversion

The missional calling is not an ecclesial but a theological vision. It is about God not about the church- it is not a survival of church or growth package, it is about a re-discovering of God. Bosch:  Mission is not the task of the church- it is an attribute of God. We have been converted from focusing on our own efforts to a focus on the Missional God who is not only present, but continuously breaking into our reality through the work of the Holy Spirit. This conversion has everything to do with the matter of agency, who is the agent at work and who is participating in that. Our conversion was ‘n discovery that we do not have to bring the energy, it is not about our wisdom, it is not about us, it is about God the primal agent and us invited to participate in what God is up to.
The irony is that the harvest is plentiful. God’s harvest is plentiful, it might be that the harvest of the church is currently small- but if we keep on looking we will discover a harvest waiting for us to be harvest.

2. Conversion from ideas about God towards a journey with God..where he intended to go- the theological conversion

I this not about understanding God, it is about journeying with God while practicing spiritual disiplines. I remember so many theological discussions there we tried to understand, franticly defending our positions, when our experience of what God is doing amongst us do not fit into the existing theological frames. And so it should be, we should continuously been converted from our fixed ideas about God- as if we can ever understand God- towards an new attitude of expecting to be surprised by God.
Note if this attitude change do not happen- we the church, us theologians and dominees and leaders, will remain the stumbling blocks that prevent our faith communities to participate in the coming of the kingdom.

3. Conversion from power  to vulnerability- like lambs among wolfs…the personal conversion

Mission was not new to any of us. We all understood that the church should reach out across its boundaries- but it was most of the time a power movement from those who have to those who do not have the hat ever. The missional vision was subversive to  that it  challenge us to follow Jesus into His vulnablilty- to empty ourselves from the power that we received from the church  when we have to plunge and had to be confronted by our unwillingness to  interact with people without our power position in the church.

4. Conversion from extraordinary to the ordinary…eating and drinking whatever they provide … the conversion to public life

We stumbled across the habit of dwelling in the world- reflecting on how God is present in our ordinary lives. The irony, wonderful irony,  is that the conversion as result of the work of the Spirit is normally not extraordinary but a conversion in the ordinary  everyday public life. Over and over we told stories of how we experience the powerful presence of God in our daily lives.

Eating and drinking whatever they provide.

 

Living the Missional Calling – Day 1 Hope is in the air

Written by Frederick on . Posted in News

Day 1 was a day of listening to incredible stories of missional breakthroughs.  The storytelling was honest and connected to reality, but at the same time it filled with hope.  More than once it was mentioned that there was HOPE in the air.

Pat Keifert summaries the day with the following closing remarks:

  • Congregations are seeking the truth and are not shy to speak the truth about themselves. Although this means that these congregations are looking inward this does not restrict them from moving beyond their boundaries.
  • There were many stories on death and new life. The missional movement involves not only new life but also dying. Powerful stories of congregations that is willing to let a old ministry die so that a new community can be born was told.
  • The Word and more specific Dwelling in the Word is a very important part of the missional journey. These congregations show trust in the Word to guide them on the journey.
  • It seems that the stories embrace both discipleship and the sending out of apostles. The stories indicate that these congregations understood that it is not only about creating members, but also the sending of apostles.
  • A large percentage of the stories reflected directly or indirectly on the conversation between URCSA and the DRC.

We are all looking forward to go deeper into the narratives to discern on wht God is doing amongst us.

Living the Missional Calling – Day 1 Hope is in the air

Written by Frederick on . Posted in News

Day 1 was a day of listening to incredible stories of missional breakthroughs.  The storytelling was honest and connected to reality, but at the same time it filled with hope.  More than once it was mentioned that there was HOPE in the air.

Pat Keifert summaries the day with the following closing remarks:

  • Congregations are seeking the truth and are not shy to speak the truth about themselves. Although this means that these congregations are looking inward this does not restrict them from moving beyond their boundaries.
  • There were many stories on death and new life. The missional movement involves not only new life but also dying. Powerful stories of congregations that is willing to let a old ministry die so that a new community can be born was told.
  • The Word and more specific Dwelling in the Word is a very important part of the missional journey. These congregations show trust in the Word to guide them on the journey.
  • It seems that the stories embrace both discipleship and the sending out of apostles. The stories indicate that these congregations understood that it is not only about creating members, but also the sending of apostles.
  • A large percentage of the stories reflected directly or indirectly on the conversation between URCSA and the DRC.

We are all looking forward to go deeper into the narratives to discern on wht God is doing amongst us.

Biblical Studies Perspectives on Human Dignity

Written by Admin on . Posted in Conferences

28 / 10 / 2009

Waar: Hofmeyrsaal, Teologie Where: Hofmeyr lecture room

· 08:00 – 08:20 Registrasie in voorportaal / Registration in foyer

· 08:20 – 08:30 Verwelkoming / Word of welcome – Elna Mouton

· 08: 30 – 09:00 Humankind as being created in the “image of God“ in the Old Testament: Possible implications for the theological debate on human dignity – Hendrik Bosman

· 09:00 – 09:05 Reaksie / Response: A Daniels

· 09:05 – 09:30 Bespreking / Discussion

· 09:30 – 10:00 Resisting Dehumanization: The acts of relational care in Exodus 1 – 2 as Image of God’s liberating presence – Julie Claassens

· 10:00 – 10:05 Reaksie / Response: Jonathan Weor

· 10:05 – 10:30 Bespreking / Discussion

10:30 – 10:45 Verversings / Refreshments

· 10:45 – 11:15 Human dignity and the construction of identity in the Old Testament – Louis Jonker

· 11:15 – 11:20 Reaksie / Response: Biswick Nhhoma

· 11:20 – 11:45 Bespreking / Discussion

· 11:45 – 12:15 The dialectic of human dignity and human finitude: reflections on the anthropology of the Psalms and Wisdom Literature – Douglas Lawrie

· 12:15 – 12:20 Reaksie / Response – BC Park

· 12:20 – 12:45 Bespreking / Discussion

· 12:45 – 13:00 Paneel/Panel members: Ian Nell, Xolile Simon, Dirkie Smit, Robert Vosloo

· 13:00 – 14:00 Middagete / Lunch

· 14:00 – 14:30 On mapping human dignity in the New Testament: Concerns, conditions and concepts – Jeremy Punt

· 14:30 – 14:50 Bespreking / Discussion

· 14:50 – 15:20 The human right to defend your case in a public court: perspectives from 1 Cor 6: 1-11 – Lambert Jacobs

· 15:20 – 15:40 Bespreking / Discussion

15:40 – 16:00 Verversings / Refreshments

· 16:00 – 16:30 Human dignity according to the Gospel of Luke: thoughts on the “alien dignity” (dignitas alienda) of human beings – Johann Du Plessis

· 16:30 – 16:50 Bespreking / Discussion

· 16:50 – 17:20 God images and human dignity? Perspectives from two controversial New Testament texts (1 Cor 14:33-40 & Eph 5:21 – 6:9) – Elna Mouton

· 17:20 – 17:40 Bespreking / Discussion

· 17:40 – 18:00 Paneel/Panel members: Ian Nell, Xolile Simon, Dirkie Smit, Robert Vosloo

 

 

 

Planning and the Budget

Written by Frederick on . Posted in Communitas Resources

Die Alban Weekly het hierdie week ‘n interessante artikel van Dan Hotchkiss oor die begrotingsproses in gemeentes!

Congregations often plan and budget as though planning were one thing and budgeting another. Bringing the two together calls for a comprehensive calendar for goal-setting and evaluation.

A key event in the sequence is the annual planning retreat. Typically, this event includes the board and senior members of the staff, including lay staff as appropriate. Ideally, the group spends at least a day and a half off-site with a strict no-cell-phone rule. The agenda varies from year to year; the focus is always on discernment and strategy, the two zones of responsibility shared by board and staff. Some special attention to the mission is appropriate every year–but it is rarely a good use of time to tweak the wording of the mission statement that often. Once every five years is more than enough, unless something is terribly wrong with the existing statement.

A more necessary work product from the retreat and related activities is the annual vision of ministry, an answer to the question, “In what new and different ways will we transform lives in the next one to three years?” To put it differently, the vision of ministry is the board’s short list of priorities. Why a short list? Because when a list of priorities is long, they’re not priorities! The vision of ministry is a short list of things the board means to accomplish, no matter what. The fact that something does not make the list does not mean that it won’t happen. While creating the vision, the board will bank a number of ideas for the future: pieces of a long-term vision to which the board is not prepared to make an ironclad commitment now. There is no way to do this without sometimes saying no.

Om die voledige artikel te lees gaan na
http://www.alban.org/conversation.aspx?id=8485