From Rev Andrew Smith
Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures
Over the last couple of weeks in this article space we’ve been considering what worship in a fresh expression might look like. We’ve acknowledged that the worship life of a fresh expression is a long way down the road after getting started. At the start it might be hard to imagine how anyone could make the leap from initially making connection with the community of a fresh expression to being part of the worship life of the fresh expression. Perhaps some people will want to make that leap. For others, it may come by a series of small steps. Still, for others, they will not be interested in the worship life of the fresh expression whether by small steps or a leap.
I think the Godsend App expresses well why we invest ourselves in people making that leap or journey of small steps: “We want to pass on God’s fuller life to those who want it.” So, as part of the richness of the community life of a fresh expression, if people want to explore faith, of course we will help them to do so. The App includes this important caution: “Remember that it is up to the person and the Holy Spirit whether they journey toward Jesus. So relax, love the person for who they are, hold them in prayer, invite them to take another step if they wish, but above all keep valuing them if they choose to stay at a particular stage. No pressure!”
As you grow in valuing people who are part of the community of your fresh expression, you will begin to get a sense of where they are at in their journeys of faith. The App describes the following movements in a journey of faith:
Part of helping people explore faith is paying attention to where they might be in their journeys of faith, and offering help that is appropriate to their stage of journey. The App includes lots of suggestions for what might be appropriate for the stages of the different movements mentioned above. I find it particularly difficult to imagine appropriate help for people in the early stages, so I very much appreciate how the App stimulates my thinking for this. An example is given for the “indifference” stage. The fresh expression in this example is a language café where women from Sri Lanka met for tea and discussed topics in English. When a team member asked if the women had any requests she could pray about, the women suggested having a board on which they could pin their prayer requests. They began talking about their requests! Later, a group was formed for the women who wanted to inquire some more about Jesus. In this example, opening up the journey of faith was initiated by something as simple as asking for prayer requests!
Another example from the App for the “indifference” stage is to introduce to your fresh expression community a time to discuss stories or themes from popular culture in which they are interested. It might be a discussion of a film or TV program; song lyrics; a book or article; celebrities in the news; sporting stories; a significant political event etc. The App calls these “conversations with a difference”. To make the difference the conversation might include questions like the following:
One final suggestion from the App: Suggest your fresh expressions community engages in acts of kindness, eg:
Part of the idea behind these acts of kindness is to let simple generosity provoke the response, “Why are you doing this?”
There are many more suggestions in the App to help you discover appropriate ways to help people in your community explore faith. The App is free, and you can download it by searching for 'fx godsend' in the App Store or Google Play.
As a final note, let me remind you of the caution offered above: “Remember that it is up to the person and the Holy Spirit whether they journey toward Jesus. So relax, love the person for who they are, hold them in prayer, invite them to take another step if they wish, but above all keep valuing them if they choose to stay at a particular stage. No pressure!”