So today, we shine a light on the darkness!

 

Today we can look at the murky world, the undefined and confusing mess that is the order of mission, three-dimensional ministries and Kairos connection and even the myth, the wonder that is the life shapes.

 

Okay, I’m being overly dramatic and ridiculous, but the truth is that some people in some places seem to think that some great conspiracy afoot in these things so today I’m going to define each thing as far as I understand it. So today you are getting the David Hammond understanding of these things, not the official party line from anywhere else. All mistakes are my own, all good ideas are repeating what they said to me!

The Order of Mission: (T.O.M.)

I am a permanent member of The Order of Mission. I joined Tom four years ago. I joined because since 2005 I have been in relationship with people from the order, through them I have found a way of living the Christian life that for me works wonderfully. I have found a family which lives for the things that I’m willing to live and die for. I found a community of church leaders and Kingdom hearts who embody the things that I want to live out. The vows of purity, simplicity and accountability help me make sense of the struggles I face. Within the order I have found mentoring and structure (huddled and learning community, retreats and gatherings) and ideas that make my life better, make my church better and simply, it feels like home. The call I am chasing is the re-evangelisation of the North and Midlands within my lifetime. I have found no better movement to be part of in this aim than The Order of Mission.

The order has no hold over me, it is entirely built on accountability and I can ignore or listen to any direction from my fellow members and its senior Guardian Keld Dahlmann. The order is very simple and transparent financially, functionally and in all areas of control.  It is not a cult, it is not extra- or anti-biblical, it is not about any one person. The order does not assume to have the answers to everything, it is simply a group of people growing and learning and listening to God together. Its origins are in St Thomas Church in Sheffield. It was based there, then was centred in South Carolina and is now based in Aarhus, Denmark.

At a point where St Tom’s was growing and planting it was wise elders from various places (including the Diocesan Bishop) who suggested a monastic order as a way of growing a movement of people without creating a new denomination or becoming divisive. For evangelicals monasteries and monasticism can be dirty words, but prior to the lax, indulgent and frankly wrong place that the monasteries ended up in in the 16th century they re-evangelised Europe. c. the 8th century onwards monasteries and the monastic movement changed our nation, bringing Christian faith back, inventing and reinventing innovations that changed our nation and made it prosperous.

I will not be pushing or forcing anyone to join TOM, but I do recommend it. If you will find out more the website is very good  or you could talk to one of the many members around Coventry.

3 D Movements . 3DM

In 2006 I went on something called, visitors week, at St Thomas Philadelphia in Sheffield. Having met Paul Maconochie and been in his huddle for more than a year. I wanted to find out more of what was happening at the church. I was hugely surprised to be joined on visitors week by leaders of extremely large and successful churches from America, continental Europe, and all parts of the UK. Seeing Paul and Alex and Mick who led in Sheffield up close I became aware of the huge demands on their time and skills from beyond their churches. In the end I understand that the tension between leading the local church and serving the national and international church became unsustainable.

3DM was born out of a desire to see the lessons that had been learnt in the building of the church in Sheffield released to the body of Christ. Paul McConnachie and Rich Robinson in the UK led out 3DM, taking big personal financial risks. They costed everything out and provided training events, resources and information for churches to buy into across Europe. Prior to this Mike Breen had pioneered 3DM in the US so they built on his model.  3DM is often accused of being a bit expensive, knowing the two guys at the centre of it all; the costings were done on paying them the wages they had received as church workers. I can testify to the fact that the church workers are not the best paid profession in the UK!

3DM has been very successful in creating content and communities to help churches. I was privileged to lead St Saviour’s Nottingham on one of the first learning communities in the UK, it was there that I met the team from Westwood church Coventry. Little did I know how life changing that would be! 3DM continues but is decentralising. As I write we are working out how different churches in different regions around the world become centres for 3DM training. The detail is not finished, but I hope that Westwood is one of those centres. there is significant cost implication which we need to work out.

Kairos Connexion:

Originally known as CKN, Kairos Connection began with the leaders of five churches in one room. Paul M shared a vision of churches working together in partnership to see the North and Midlands re-evangelised in our generation. We decided to partner and be a community of churches, within our own denominational structures, working together to that end. We made a financial commitment to be part of that and receive training and support via 3DM. Much more than that we gained brothers and sisters in the battle. Brother leaders we could rely on, share an absolute understanding of how and what we were doing and build not just economies of scale, but a movement of churches to reach our goal. Churches outside this movement will have key roles to play in the transformation of our town, cities and areas. Were not exclusive or arrogant about our role over and above other churches and groups, we’re just a bunch of people who found some fellow travellers we agree with. We think it’s best to work together. The doors are always open and we’re always happy to learn from others. From those four or five churches a couple years ago we now number over 20 with a large fringe of those exploring. Paul  left Sheffield for North America and handed over to Nick Harding, from Frontline Church in Liverpool to oversee England and Karl Martin from Central in Edinburgh to oversee the Celtic nations.  this movement is still very young, so watch this space.

LifeShapes:

Part of me wants to bash my head against my desk and say get over it people! Some of us “find our security in having an opinion that differs from others.”

19325_10152825855493741_523379676966057149_nSome of you will genuinely not get the lifeshapes or find them less useful.  I’m not prescriptive in their use. The lifeshapes are the rule of life for members of The Order of Mission. In the same way that the order and rule of Benedict is the rule of life for Benedictines. Mike Breen and the team who came up with the life shapes have never said that the life shapes are more important than the Bible or the complete truth of Jesus distilled into eight shapes.

I find that trying to live everything the Bible says is difficult for my small brain. The lifeshapes give me tools to make sure that I stick to the most important facets of Jesus message. Through them I have learnt to live a life where I consistently, repeatedly and deeply repent and believe, balance my life, work out of Jesus strength rather than my own, know my calling and identity, find out fruitful way to share my faith, evaluate my self family and church clearly and effectively among many other things. I don’t think you’ll hear me preach the lifeshapes, I don’t think that works. I will refer to them as I speak to you in every context as they inform the way I think and speak all the time. There isn’t anything sinister about the fact that eight geometric shapes helped me to remember to do everything Jesus taught, it confuses me that that causes people problems. Westwood church has chosen to use these as part of its language. I’m not going to apologise for that or defensively justify it, if the lifeshapes don’t work for you, you are still valid and welcome member of the church. Having said that, I think there is something good to be learned from the lifeshapes for every human being.

We always have a choice: Do we set themselves apart to find some defensive security, or do we humbly come to every new idea and innovation looking for what God is trying to teach us through it?