By Dave Swan
the journey continues….
I returned from study leave convinced that I needed to make disciples and that is what I am called to do for the rest of my life. Immediately I was challenged with the realisation that I had never been discipled in any intentional way and that I needed to seek a positive discipleship relationship and accountability.
I joined a 3dm coaching huddle through skype. This was largely a positive experience in learning “information” on how to develop discipleship relationships and use tools to teach basic discipleship principles. Of course the “imitation” aspect of discipleship was still distanced as we were learning principles remotely.
At the same time we tried to address the fact that our small church gatherings of about 40 acted in the main like a large gathering, though we had worked hard to make them more interactive and informal. We decided to model some missional community principles one Sunday a month and called it “engage”. We attempted to engage and serve our community through activities such as litter picking and serving hot chocolate to parents attending Sunday football matches, but perhaps this lost momentum as a local coaching huddle had not been started. “Engage” became a kids club following on from our holiday club with a parent’s cafe running alongside it.
Much of this lost momentum when I was ill and was off work for 6 months. Although there was a pilot leadership huddle, there was resistance to this becoming regular. (in the main due to my illness and the perception that this was an added commitment) The introduction of the concept of the Learning Community may have added to the discomfort as they perceived they were committing to something they felt they could not sustain.
I found I was able to model the discipleship principles better with two men who were new converts and with whom I had built a relationship of openness and trust through our monthly men’s hill walks. I could not say the mission weeks of our huddle were a great success, but at least we were doing them!
In the end I felt that our small church plant, and myself as the leader, just did not have the sustained momentum to be a workable situation. When I stepped down as leader, the leadership team decided to close the church – and ironically the discipleship process of meeting in cafe church to prepare people to move on in their journey with Jesus, was one of the most positive and rewarding periods for me in the church.
Grace and Peace on the journey. David Swan