In 2014 our church decided things had to change. Neighbouring congregations had been closed down that weren't too much smaller than us. To top it off, our building was earthquake prone and needed a lot of money to bring it up to standard.
Then God gave us a vision. Not to get a flash band, better coffee, and an x-factor preacher, but to become intentional about sharing the Gospel. It seemed to us that we'd forgotten - if we ever knew - how to effectively share our faith. God was calling us to be good news to our community: a blessing, not a bore.
But how? We had an inkling of where God was wanting to take us, but no idea how to get there. That's when a bunch of divine coincidences led us to a discipling movement called 3DM. Their kaupapa is about creating discipleship cultures in churches. Its New Zealand expression is called The Good Soil Collective. Excitingly for us, they provide practical tools designed to help people like us become mentors for others wanting to follow Jesus. Eg, one of the tools is a 'huddle' in which one person who has already been mentored, invests a year with 4-8 people, teaching and showing them key spiritual disciplines ("life shapes"). At the end of the year huddle members will be equipped to mentor others, and find practical and sustainable ways of doing the missional tasks God is calling them to engage with.
Imagine a church that consistently produces people who know how to sustain a healthy spiritual life, and give expression to that in the wider community. Who don't just tell others the good news, but who embody that good news enough to be able to say, like Paul in the Bible, "imitate me". We don't reckon that's arrogant, we think it is how authentic Christian movements have always grown. It's not about perfection, it's about staying open to learning.
So we are aiming to become a blessing to our community by becoming a church that consistently produces people who show and teach others what a relationship with God through Jesus looks like. We've begun by using 3DM tools as the 'engine' that's going to help get us to our 2020 vision. Along the way we expect to make mistakes and change tact - a number of times. A discipleship culture is all about learning. And that's the posture we are intentionally embracing.