May 26 MC Leaders Training Recap

I know that any time I am in a full-day training setting, after departing there are moments or thoughts from the day that, however important, I've forgotten. This is especially unfortunate when I'm trying to relay the info to someone who needs to hear it! Recognizing this, I plan on posting a Training Day Recap after each of our MC Leaders Trainings here on our blog. These posts will inevitably be a bit lengthy but hopefully they fill in the gaps for you when you try and relay the information on to others! 

MORNING SESSION // What is a Disciple? How does a DNA time foster discipleship?

A disciple is someone who displays these three ongoing realities (note: these are not achievements or 'moments', but ongoing processes in a disciple's life):

  1. Gospel-Centred 

    Romans 1:16 (ESV)

    16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

  2. Spirit-Led 

    2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)

    18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

  3. Mission-Focused

    Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV)

    18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We believe that missional communities are spaces where each of these realities can be worked out, while out in the everyday places of life; where you work, learn, live, and play. 

BUT we need to be mindful of this: if we are out in the world modelling what Jesus is like, then we had better be absolutely certain that what we are modelling is actually what Jesus is like. In other words, we had better return to our template (Jesus) often. In other words:

 Gospel transformation must happen to you before it can happen through you.

This is where a DNA time comes in. Here is what DNA stands for (we've changed the acronym slightly, sorry!)

  • Discover: this is our time to teach the Head. Here we study together and use the 4 questions to gain insight:
    • Who is God?
    • What has He done?
    • Who am I in light of this?
    • How do I live in light of that identity?
  • Nurture: this is our time to shepherd the Heart. Here we take what we've learned during our discovery time and push it down into our hearts, where the Bible points to our will being. The reality is that we can know a truth about something or someone and still struggle to believe it. Here our time is spent in repentance (changing your mind about what deserves worship) and believing the Gospel. Your fellow DNA members are tasked with listening to your heart, asking good questions, and speaking the truth in love. 
  • Act: this is where we empower the Hands. When we learn truth about who God is and who we are in light of that and then the Holy Spirit brings us to repentance, it ought to always affect the way we live. The two key areas to think about are what to do and/or who to tell. 

As a result of all of this, we recognized that while there are many things that a DNA could spend their time doing/studying, there are a select group of things that they should spend their time on.

  1. Scripture reading: this is most important, because it's the clearest picture we have of our template, Jesus! We'd recommend using a Christ-Centred Exposition commentary to assist you as you read together.
  2. Saturate resources: Gospel Fluency, Growing in Christ Together, and The Story of God are all great resources developed by churches who are exploring missional life just like we are. These are proving tremendously helpful in DNA's.
  3. Targeted resources: these are only for the DNA's that are going through a significant and specific challenge that you feel you really need to address in a targeted way. In these situations, we will partner together to find a helpful resource for your group. 

AFTERNOON SESSION // Stirring your missional imagination!

We agreed that because of the limitations placed on us by our Canadian weather, when things warm up outside and start to turn green, people are out, active, and open to making connections! We want to capitalize on this reality. We said that there are two parallel tracks of missional living, both of which are important:

  • Proactive mission: these are the initiatives/projects/ideas that you, your family, or your MC dream up in order to bring people together or make good things happen. Something good where there was nothing before. Examples: street parties, movie nights in your community, building a sandbox for neighbourhood kids, or putting on a garbage clean-up. 
  • Reactive mission: just as valuable, this is recognizing the ways that you already are spending your time and inviting others into that space (both believers and unbelievers). Examples include: having your MC meals outside and inviting neighbours to join, inviting a group of neighbours/friends to help you on a renovation over a weekend, going on walks at the same time every night and inviting others to join, shared vacations, and much more)

The goal is to be intentional: both in the proactive and reactive areas of our lives.

 

I hope this was helpful. In Guelph as it is in Heaven! 

- Spencer

Recovering Lent

One of the faults that someone may rightly point out in the evangelical church is that, in our haste to cast off unhelpful and unnecessary traditions, we have failed to hold on to some which may still have some benefit. At the very least, some of these traditions ought be reimagined for a new generation. One such example is in the following of the liturgical calendar. 

For centuries, churches have used the liturgical calendar to celebrate certain key moments in salvation history throughout the year, with specific prayers and scripture readings to accompany them. One season in the church calendar is Lent - a concept which isn't yet too foreign to us. Lent is the season where we take time to slow down, examine our lives, and refocus our worship onto Jesus Christ, in preparation of celebrating his death and resurrection at Easter. 

Lent begins today (Feb. 14), and this year Saturate has put out a great resource to guide you through Lent. You could go through this as an entire MC, or as DNA groups, or within your biological family unit. You can download the guide here.

One word of caution, before you go: during Lent we often embrace practices of self-denial, like fasting or solitude. We must always remember that these practices are meant to bring us into postures of repentance and worship at Jesus saving grace - they are not what saves us or earns us favour with God. If we get this mixed up, we are actually straying from the Gospel, not embracing it!  You can find a great article explaining this in greater deal here

May this season be one where an ancient tradition breathes some fresh life to your soul! 

Don't Fail to Reflect

“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” (Deuteronomy 32:7, ESV)

God's people ought to be the sort who are prone to reflection. Scripture clearly points us to rhythms of action and reflection, speaking and listening, learning and doing. Sadly, these aren't rhythms that our culture prizes. In fact, without an intentional laying hold of moments specifically for reflection, we will probably find that we rarely take the time to do so. 

I want to, at the start of a new year, point us to some tools that can help us reflect both personally and as missional communities. The first is a tool that can be used by individuals or as groups, created by Saturate, for helping to reflect on the year gone by and the year ahead. The Annual Reflection and Plan can be found here

Another is a great article about the 4 Stages of Community. This is a great tool for MC leaders to use to help critically think about how far along your MC is on the trajectory towards forming a healthy community. The article can be found here, along with this diagnostic tool

Let's be faithful to reflect so that we don't miss anything the Holy Spirit wants to teach us as we move forward into 2018. Finally, as always, I am happy to dialogue with you as you use any of these tools for reflection.

A Great Advent Resource

The season of Advent should be about so much more than just dollar store calendars and cheap chocolate. Advent is a time for followers of Jesus to slow down, reflect, remember, and worship. Sometimes, though, in the midst of the cares and responsibilities of life, we need a little helping hand in getting there, right? 

Saturate has published a wonderful Advent guide that you can grab here for free. There is one interactive and engaging devotional for each week of Advent. I would suggest that this is best used either in the context of your family or perhaps at your weekly Missional Community potluck. The great thing about this guide is that will engage more than just the thoughtful readers among you - there are questions to talk through together, a prayer to read aloud, and even a song that you might sing together! 

I hope that you find this guide enriches your experience of Advent this year as we journey towards the celebration of God "becoming flesh and blood, and moving into the neighbourhood!"

Living Missionally Over the Holidays

There is a strange phenomenon that surrounds the holidays: we can spend so much time during the year looking forward to them and yet the actual season can pass us by in such a blur that we don't take a moment to reflect until they are over and we wake up in a sea of wrapping paper and stale cookies.

This is a loss for us as a family of missionary disciples because the holiday season is a time that's ripe for missional engagement. Our friends at Saturate have put together a great resource to help us think creatively about how to engage the people around us during the Christmas season. Check it out and get that tree up!

COTC Moving Announcement

It is with much excitement that the elders of Church of the City would like to announce: We are moving! 

Over the last number of months we have begun to experience growth constrictions in our current space, John McCrae Public School. This is a great problem but one that needs to be solved.  

As elders, we discerned a couple of things:

1) We do not want to split our church into two services.  We have only begun to develop some of our rhythms and values and keeping us together for unity was identified as important. As we continue to develop a 'Reunion' culture having one large gathering made  more sense than two smaller. 

2) We want to remain central in the city. Our desire is to be accessible for all people in the city and select a central location to do so. Our vision of 'In Guelph as it is in Heaven' continues to guide us as we pray this over our city. 

With these two things in mind we began exploring central meeting locations and while our selection became extremely limited, it also made our choice much easier. We are excited to announce that War Memorial Hall will become our new meeting space this January. 

War Memorial Hall has an incredibly rich history in this city and is dead centre at the corner of Gordon and College. 

Over the next couple of months please be praying for our elders and leadership team as they plan and put together this new space. This is a big faith step for us but we are trusting our incredible God to guide as we move. 

If you have questions please send us an email at info@churchofthecity.ca or ask them to our elders at our upcoming membership information meetings (Nov. 6th and Nov. 14th). 

 

 

 

 

August Finance Update

This past Sunday, Matt Klein Geltink(Elder & Treasurer) and John Gaddaye(Elder) presented a Church of the City Finance Update. 

Here is a breakdown of what they shared with us:

Where does the money go?

Church of the City created a transitional budget from mid-February until the end of the year based on the budget of our two prior churches, with some changes. The budget is fairly lean at $185,000. Without a building, Church of the City saves on typical building expenses but we do have rental costs for the use of John McCrae and equipment related to our Sunday gatherings. 

The breakdown of this budget based on categorical percentages, is the following:

Internal Programs = 7%

External Programs (Guelph) = 2%

External Programs (Beyond Guelph) = 7%

Pastor & Intern Payroll Expenses = 64%

Building, Vehicle & Equipment = 15%

Pastoral Needs = 1%

Administration = 5%

How are we doing compared to this budget?

We are more or less on track with this budget. Administration has been higher than expected due to start-up costs (bookkeeping and legal) but every other area is on track. We have had to make some big purchases such as speakers and chairs to accommodate our numerical growth. 

Where does the money come from?

Church of the City is supported by both internal and external givers. External givers are partner fellowship churches, extended families of Church of the City attendees and some businesses. 

As of June 30th, the current split related to our giving was 80% internal and 20% external. Internal donations currently cover 85% of our actual expenses. 

What do things look like moving forward?

The elders of Church of the City, believe it is time to release all external giving and rely on God to provide through his people here. We are no longer a 'small' church plant and we feel we are at the size to support ourselves. All external giving will cease as of September 2016 and we are excited to see what God does through this step of faith. 

In the future, Church of the City desires to increase financial support to local and international missions, as well as plant daughter churches. We are exited about these things but know they require sacrificial giving and generosity. 

What are the ways to give to Church of the City? 

  1. PreAuthoized Giving (PAG): Donation is automatically withdrawn bi-weekly or monthly direct from your bank account. 
  2. Text2Give: Donations made through text messaging.
  3. Weekly Offering: Donating through cheque or cash in our weekly offering at Reunion. 
  4. Canada Helps: Donate online through our Canada Helps page.

Want to know more?

Please feel free to contact Matt Klein Geltink

Detailed financial statements will be available at the end of the year. 

 

 

Sabbath & Reunion Serving

After this mornings message I received a great question:

"How do I Sabbath on Sundays if I am serving at Reunion (our Sunday gathering)?"

A few points to answer:

1)  The essence of Sabbath is not choosing one particular day of the week over another. Your Sabbath or ceasing from work one day a week, does not necessarily need to be Sundays. If you are on schedule to serve at Reunion perhaps plan to take your Sabbath on Saturday or Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown. This may mean Sunday afternoon is running errands time but the point is to be intentional about moving things around in your calendar to get your day of rest. This also may involve taking different days as Sabbath throughout your weeks or not having a solid 24 hours straight but 12 here and 12 there. 

2) Sabbath is freedom from things that enslave you.  Your serving position on Sundays may feel like work but for another person, it may not. If this is you, make sure to switch things around on your weekend and throughout the week so you can find rest elsewhere. 

3) Sabbath is a discipline of ceasing from work one day of seven.   The key word here is discipline. Discipline is hard and discipline takes work. To apply 1& 2, it will mean being thoughtful, intentional and protective of your Sabbath time.  

4) Sabbath is an opportunity not an obligation.  Remember, Sabbath is an invitation to a life of trusting God and removing yourself from the centre. 

Thanks for the question and thanks for being honest. 

The audio from Sundays message will be available on the podcast over the next few days.