I've been thinking a lot lately about why I've been drawn to church planting, and the hope I see in new expressions of church - new worshipping communities - and how we as Christians are called to connect with the larger community, culture, and neighbourhood around us.
I had a great conversation with someone yesterday who works with an organization called Fresh Expressions, swirling around some of these thoughts. We talked about how the church is changing - and needs to change - in the face of a shifting culture. Right now, in North America, our world is changing. People are leaving the church and their faith in droves, and doing so thoughtfully - and, perhaps, with good reason. I think of a family member who has two seminary degrees, which led her to intentionally, intelligently, and thoughtfully leave her faith behind in pursuit of something she found to be more truthful. For those of us who love the church, it's easy to feel that things are falling apart.
And yet, it seems there's a breath of fresh air sweeping through the church. Day after day, I hear stories of people living as faithful witnesses of what it means to follow Christ in their neighbourhoods, their workplaces, their schools. Earlier this week, I met a couple who decided a few years ago to leave their middle-class suburban life behind and move into a lower-income apartment complex here in Oshawa, with the dream of loving their new neighbours, living and serving with them - not to them or for them - and sharing their faith in word and deed. I could tell you so many beautiful stories of similar movements.
And this is where my new community of faith begins - as I try to live faithfully in my new neighbourhood, loving others because they're people who are loved by God, building relationships, and finding intentional ways to bear witness (verbally and otherwise) to what it means to follow Jesus.
Some friends of mine started an organization for church plants and other expressions of faith communities with this kind of heart, called the Parish Collective. They put so much beautiful vocabulary to what's happening in the church - and what I'm excited to be a part of here in Oshawa, Ontario. To read more, here's a great article that summarizes this breath of fresh air in the church.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.