The First Midwest Unity Eventby Kim Larsen on 04/11/2012
On March 21st, I had the joy of sitting through a several hours’ long meeting in a church basement on a truly glorious, sunny March day. I didn’t begrudge a moment though; it was that good.
Anglicans came from Chicago and across Wisconsin to the Twin Cities of Minnesota to talk about coming together in a diocese. This is heavy stuff for people who want to be Anglican Christians. Organization around geography as opposed to organization protecting doctrine is a distinctive Anglican response to that same organization of the churches described in our New Testament.
I carried three themes away from the day. These are my first impressions.
1) Restoration. I had met many of these people, some from each location. I had had hopes of joining with them from the earliest times of our missional community, Hope Anglican. I had been excited about them and their gifts. Distance and the call of different ideas about our mission and leadership had dampened those hopes. So now, restoring the connection with these people through naming our hopes, naming our love for Jesus and His Church, was a huge balm and boost. We can be restored, and our glorious Anglican way of being His Body refreshed, if we recognize and embrace our need for all the parts and functions and gifts of that Body, in order to be that Church. So I was able to rediscover why I’d liked these people so much and meet more of their church families. I was reassured of good intentions by the thoughtful articulation of our shared hopes for the matured and highly functioning Church to come. I am heartened by the humble need for prayer and study and fellowship. That gives the Holy Spirit much to work with as he goes about restoring the Church! Who could ever stand against that?
2) We spoke about evangelism and discipleship. Acknowledging the great importance of planting churches and reaching the lost is easy for this group, but then what? The more this topic came up, the more evident it became that we need to work a way to address a continued path of discipleship from children’s ministry, throughout maturity of our life and work. Continued, intentional discipleship continues to draw people further up and further in (as Aslan would say) to the Way of Christ. Transformation of the people reached for Christ isn’t a goal to hit and move on from. Transformation of the culture that we live in and raise our children in requires continued discipling through worship, teaching, service, and prayer. The line becomes blurred: Is our intentional work to disciple people, within and outside of the church, actually our work of evangelism? This will require more thought and imagination and I expect the Lord to bless us with wisdom and inspiration.
3) Trust in leadership. About half of us came out of another branch of the Anglican Communion that had failed our families and us. Half are still learning this distinctive Anglican sense of tradition and polity. So there is hunger for Godly leadership. At the same time, there is considerable concern and caution against submitting to leadership that may turn out to not be Godly. We didn’t have to spend much time on this because it is clearly understood to be an issue of recent pain and some fear. Further, we are Americans and self-reliance runs deep. The answer is not to staff up the same systems with better people. The answer is to go back to The Word and dig in to what Jesus and the Apostles meant and intended as the ecclesia. Just as with the desire for intentional discipleship aimed at transformation, desire to present the gift of leadership constantly submitted to our own only Lord will require imagination and earnest prayer, open to His guiding. We need to re-learn how to be the Church, accountable to the Lord’s will through one another. This process of building unity will be a laboratory for leadership that is truly submitted and humble before God.
Finally, Dr. Munday’s sermon in our closing worship tied these things up for me so simply. The Church is for worship. Our mission is to gain more worship, more worshippers, more, more, more glory to God! More dependence and trust in Him, leaving more room to love one another.
Time to raise up a Church!
Kim is a lay evangelist at Hope Anglican Fellowship in Hudson, WI. Previously, Kim spent 15 years in sales, marketing and corporate training positions with several large corporations and earned an MBA from Pepperdine University. Currently, she lives with her husband and two daughters in rural western Wisconsin, where she devotes herself to homeschooling them and to the “business” of planting a church.