Changing seasons: what does that mean for our MC?

Well it feels as if Autumn is well and truly underway here in the north of the UK and it’s amazing how quickly the shift of seasons can happen. A week ago our lawn was looking green, now it is covered with a beautiful carpet of orange and brown leaves. I am ignoring the fact that this means we will need to sweep them up soon.

autumnSometimes the shift of season for our Missional Communities feels like it can happen very quickly too.  Perhaps we’ve been enjoying the laid back nature of gathering for fun and relaxed times over the summer and suddenly we’re very aware of how full life has become again for people. Sometimes perhaps we feel like we’ve been praying for a particular breakthrough in our MC and it suddenly happens without any warning and you’re into the next phase of what God wants to do. Instead of lurching from one season to another how should we respond to these shifts?

We may need to re-evaluate several things, including:

  • whether our current rhythms/patterns work for this new season
  • whether it’s a season to call people in or release them out
  • whether to start something new, or stop something – or both!
  • whether it’s a time for waiting on the Lord or acting in response to what He’s saying
  • whether what we’re doing is simple, sustainable and reproducible
  • or many other things

At our church the leaders of one particular MC had been praying and recognising that there was so much leadership potential in the community they wanted to release people to lead in their own God-given vision. At our leaders Learning Community in May they shared that with the room without any real idea of how it was going to happen, other than trusting the Holy Spirit to do it. Fast forward to July and we found ourselves at a final BBQ celebrating 5 years of this MC and praying for the leaders of 2 new communities which have come from it.

This season has been echoed across the church.  3 MCs actually ended in the summer after much prayer and discussion – we joked that we managed to halve the number of MCs we had in just one week!  On the surface, and to those not convinced by MCs, that can look like failure. We have worked hard to communicate messages about seeds dying and going into the ground, about God pruning things for greater fruit, and about how we often need a ‘gap’, uncomfortable as that may be, to give space for new things to grow and develop.

And, praise God, they are. We have had 2 new communities launch this week, and another 2 in the pipeline for the next few weeks and we are having lots of conversations with people about vision that God is stirring in them for new things. We are eager to see what God is doing with them.   Alongside that we are running something we are calling Basecamp – a 7-week series of evenings going back to basics and exploring things like our vision & values, covenant & kingdom, family on mission, people of peace, discipleship and exploring personal vision (we actually pinched the idea from King’s Church Warrington – thanks guys!)  We are calling all those who are either ‘in-between’ MCs, new to the church or just want to put aside the space to hear what God is saying to join us.  We are excited about what new visions and connections between people will emerge.

What about you? What kind of season is your MC in? Or your church?  What is God saying about how you need to respond to that? Don’t be afraid of making the uncomfortable decisions if necessary. 

Helen Askhelen-a-picew lives in Harrogate, North Yorkshire along with her two children and husband Ben who is as a Pioneer Curate in the Church of England.  She has been part of and led Missional Communities for over 14 years. They work for Kairos Network Church, an Anglican Fresh Expression, and are also involved with 3DM Europe.