Over the last few weeks I have been spending a great deal of time pondering the future of our minsitry. As we move towards the church plant, we are realizing that it is just one part of the great shift in our little missional community. I have talked a great deal about the values and ideals that we embrace, but it often lack concrete examples to flesh it out.
For the past 6 years, we have been a small group of YWAM missionaries living and serving in Winnipeg’s inner city. For the past four of those years, we have all lived together in a duplex my wife & I bought- a former gang house that was restored by Lazarus Housing and sold to us by our friend and neighbour, the late Harry Lehotsky. While we were primarily program-centered for the first few years, we differentiated many YWAM centres with a strong theology of place alongside our theology of going.
As we have shared life and ministry together over the years, we have begun to see the importance of being more intentional as a community. To that end, we have slowly been adopting a pattern or rhythme of life together. We take time every week together for prayer, worship and spiritual/missional formation. Our single staff have begun leading out in sharing meals together regularly. We all love extending hospitality (despite our predominance in introverts), so have been more disciplined to reach out and invite in.
Interestingly, though it was never an explicit goal, we are realizing that what we are moving towards reflects many of the marks of the “New Monasticism” (though, as missionaries relying on charity for our livelihood, we have dubbed ourselves “Missional Mendicants”). While none of us are primarily called or gifted to activism, we have felt a deep calling to be an open, vulnerable and missional community within our wonderful, but wounded inner city neighbourhood.
As we look to the future, we are realizing that we need to redefine our identity to extend our welcome to others. Up until this point, our community has been made up of (primarily) YWAM staff, students and volunteers. While all of us feel called to remain as YWAM missionaries, we are working to create an expression of our identity that is more inclusive, hoping it will make space for others to come alongside us.
One of the ways we want to do this is open our home. Our house (which we are in the process of naming), is a large duplex. Kim & I live on the one side (currently preparing to add a child to the mix), with out three single staff living on the other side. However, at this time, much of the other side of the duplex remains largely unused- or rather only used on occassion. Therefore, our hope is to see other singles, whether they are working, going to school, etc. join us by living in the house.
We are also hoping that others in the community (and, yes, some outside of our immediate community) participate as well. We want to form an intimate community of people who are committed to God, to each other and to our neighbours, joining together in an intentional way of life. We believe that this means consistant weekly meals together (at least once a week, if not more), regular times of community prayer, worship, formation and service. It could range from creating alternative options for young sex trade workers to weeding our little community garden.
We are being shaped by many examples and tradition, but two stand out to us: Anabaptist and Franciscan. I have jokingly called myself a Franabapist, but it does give a clear touchstone of who we hope to be. Some of the core values we embrace (which must in turn be expressed as tangible and incarnational virtues) are as follows:
-Justice & Mercy: Again, while we are not primarily activist, we do believe that we are called to “Do (make, form, inspire, provoke, etc.) Justice” through our lives and community. Inseparable to this is living lives of compassionate mercy, tempered by the humility of mutuality, not paternalism (Micah 6:8). This includes responsible economics, ecologics, etc., as well as advocacy and training to help others better embrace these virtues.
-Simplicity & Generosity: As we live among the urban poor (and work with the global poor), especially in the midst of a rampantly consumeristic and selfish culture, we want to live lives of simplicity and generosity, both within our immediate community and to those outside of it (even to the ends of the earth).
-Peace & Reconciliation: This is our biggest challenge. While I love the sense of community and the diversity of our neighbourhood, it is also torn with violence (gang related, domestic, random, etc.). As white expression in a very multiracial community, we have learned that racial and cultural reconciliation is a desperate need, but one that will not be solved with programs (though they have their rightful and necessary place).
This new direction will mean many changes. It means that the dynamic of the YWAM ministry will have the addition of both the church plant and the intentional community expression- all inter-related and connected, but somewhat distinct and unique. It means the YWAM programs will have to make room for these other expressions, but we are VERY strong that these programs are a part of who we are and will be an expression of the larger whole. Again, while I talk about three expressions, they will all be integrated into a whole.
Now we are praying for God to bring the people who will share life with us. Interested? Questions?
Missional Missional+Community Church+Planting New+Monasticism St+Francis Anabaptist Mennonite Church