This is long. While others enjoyed The Butler or Smurfs 2, I took advantage of (part of) the ten hour flight to Tel Aviv to construct this (hopefully) informative post. Please excuse its length.
Last Thursday, the 801South Launch Team gathered together for food, worship, and an introduction to the different ministry areas through which we will serve when we launch later this spring. For those of you who were not able to attend, I hope you find this recap helpful.
Following the pizza party (cookies included thanks to Beth Marshall) we worshiped together through the use of technology. Our worship featured the beautiful worship song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) as well as a new one from my current man-crush, John Mark McMillan, called “Future/Past.” I also spoke to the team about the interesting dynamics we face in starting something new (801South) from within something existing (Matthews UMC) and the tensions these dynamics create.
Most of the launch team are here at Matthews UMC because, at the very least, they are complacent with the current church ministries. If people were not inline with the vision of MUMC prior to 801South, then they most likely would have already sought another spiritual home. And those who were discontent with the vision, direction, or leadership of MUMC, but were waiting around for something like 801South will more than likely be detrimental to our efforts in the long run.
So we are taking a majority of the Launch Team from within current ministries; which they enjoy and to which they feel committed. This works great for those who simply want to be a part of a new service, especially those who will use 801South as a tool to connect people who are not currently thriving in another faith community. (BTW, “faith community” is the trendy way to say “church.”) But 801South will be hindered if the whole team takes this approach.
The way to differentiate the launch team is to ask for people to be more than do. Many times the established church trains people simply to do. They want to set up chairs. They want to invite friends. They want to build houses. They want to attend Bible studies. And all of this doing is awesome.
We do, however, need a critical mass of the 801South Launchers to be rather than simply do by participating in intentional communities through small groups; which are currently launching. If everyone simply does, I can see the values and motivation behind 801South fading slowly over time. The doing apart from being has a tendency to drain people. The being works to reenergize and keeps the doing on the tracks originally laid. Without the being, the doers will do themselves right off track. The being reminds us of Paul’s words in Colossians when he writes that it is Jesus’ energy that sustains his ministry. The being of intentional community provides the support, accountability, and energy to sustain our mission together.
Being and doing is a dance (mainly pop and lock, I think, or possibly the Dougie). We move back and forth and each informs the other as both work to transform us.
This is why I have been (and will always) encourage the Launch Teamers to take a step back from their current areas of ministry for the sake of making the launch a priority during this season. The 801South small groups are always open so even though the dates listed have past, you can still sign up and the leader of the group for which you signed up will contact you.
Please think seriously (I would say pray, but I don’t want to provide an opportunity for the whole “I’m-praying-about-it-delayed-no;” at which we are so good here in the church) about joining one of these small groups. As you can see at 801South.org, there is an end date to each group so if you want an out, we have one built in.
But I think you won’t.
At the Launch Team event, we also released some dates, as well as some relational marketing tools for the team to use as we invite people to come alongside for this journey. We will be distributing glossy invite cards to the Launch Team at the February events as part of the equipping. The cards will have the logo, a link to the promo video, and some other info.
On Sunday, February 9th, the Launch Team will take a field trip to Team Church to observe their Children’s and Hospitality ministries. For those who can make it, we will meet our host on their campus at 8:45 a.m. The dates for future Launch Team events; which will focus on ministry training are February 13th (Thursday evening) & 22nd (Saturday morning) and March 4th (Tuesday evening) & March 23rd (Sunday afternoon). Times, locations, and other details for the events are forthcoming, but please put these dates on your calendar.
As the leader of this movement, I have two deep desires that drive me to see it through despite the dynamics, the tensions, the fears, the discouraging thoughts, and other roadblocks. The first is to see a new environment through which people will be connected to Jesus. (The level of evangelical urgency we display as the Launch Team will determine how far and fast we go.) The second is to see Jesus-followers trained and equipped to be in ministry to the world around them. Thank you to those who are choosing to be a part.