I guess it is about time for another update on our church planting mission. Some really significant things have happened in the last couple months.
Motts Arrival in Wichita
First of all, the Motts finally made their move to Wichita. They arrived in late August and after a few hurdles closed on a house just down the street from us. It has been really fun to start learning how to be good neighbors. One rhythm we have begun is to go to the park across the street from us on Monday nights to hang out and meet people. We are continually amazed how naturally conversations and friendships begin to emerge at the park. Kyle has also started work at another Starbucks in town and is doing really well. He has become a steady, dependable worker and friend to a store in transition. He exemplifies the kind of disciple described in Acts 2 who “enjoy[s] the favor of all the people.” We are so excited to finally have the Motts on board with us.
Developing a Discipleship Process
Another important development is our formation of a process of discipleship. The Great Commission of Jesus Christ instructs all believers to go and make disciples. We believe that if we go and make committed disciples of Jesus, then we will have a church. So rather than spending our time and energy developing a meaningful worship service, the last several months have been focused on developing a process of discipleship to teach people the way of Jesus. We begin by sharing the story of God. Then, over several weeks we explore what it means to have a trusting relationship with God, what it means to live on mission, and how to share all of this with the church. Our goal is for people to encounter the living God and be formed into the likeness of His son. If a participant is willing to go deeper we work with them to develop their own rule of life incorporating specific practices, such as prayer, reading scripture, service, and community. We just finished bringing our first set of people through this process and now have five adults (which include the Lewises and Motts) who are committed to each other and to living the way of Jesus here in Wichita.
Formation Groups & Communion
The month of September has been a month really focused on developing some systems and structures that make up our new churches practices. One of these practices is our formation groups. These groups are gender specific groups of 2-3 people who meet regularly to intentionally focus on their own spiritual formation in Christlikeness. A formation group meets to answer these 5 questions:
- How is your heart/spirit this week? – It is important to spend time sharing our lives with each other and giving context for the emotions of our heart. Listening to each other on a heart level also helps us tune our ears to listen for the heart of God.
- What have you been hearing from God this week? – Sharing our relationship with God and what we sense Him saying to us is an important tool for discernment and often an encouragment for others to press into their own relationship with God.
- How have you been doing living your rule of life this week? – This is an important time for self-reflection to continually move deeper into the lifestyle of Jesus. It also offers a time to encourage and hold each other accountable to commitments you have made to living the way of Jesus.
- What brokenness/sin do you need to confess this week? – It is necessary to our spiritual formation to have regular times for confession and to assure forgiveness to one another.
- How can I pray for you this week? – Spend time praying for each other.
We call our other main practice of Christian community Communion. This time is the equivalent of a worship service or house church gathering. We wanted to name it something different so as not to communicate that this time equals church. Our time of Communion is more than just a time to share in the Lord’s Supper but only a part of what it means to be part of our church and live the way of Jesus. We spend time each week eating together, sharing the Lord’s supper, reading scripture, telling stories, connecting with God, and preparing to live on mission. We spent September developing what this time would look and feel like and this past weekend starting including others for the first time.
With the development of our discipleship process, formation groups, and communion we feel like we are off and running in this church planting. We currently have a church of nine people who are committed to living the way of Jesus by trusting God and living on mission together. We are focused on living on mission and we have started asking others to participate in our discipleship process to “try on” the way of Jesus. Keep praying for us!