They are all around us! They are everywhere! Movement initiators that is – formally known as church planters.
We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us. By living faithfully into this identity statement as a church, the new church movement came into being. In true (DoC) fashion, New Church Ministry (NCM) has attempted to capture a title that truly reflects what its ministry and the people involved in that ministry are all about. We are a movement. Those who are joining this movement through avenues such as Leadership Academy are initiators of the movement wherever they find themselves. They are everywhere!
I have the great joy of being a coach within NCM, which I joined in 2004. At that time, a coach was called a Barnabas. I have long lost count of the number of projects (which is what we used to call movements) that I have come alongside and the number of movement initiators who I’ve walked with as they lived faithfully into the calling that God placed upon their lives “to be and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, witnessing, loving and serving from our doorsteps ‘to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8, as our Disciples mission states.) Movement initiators are faithfully being this Good News in a whole plethora of ways every day.
I became a coach at a time when I was looking around for signs of hope and new life within the Christian Church (DoC) in the United States and Canada. They were difficult to find then, but there was a spark within our efforts to start 1,000 new congregations by the year 2020 that got a fire going. So, I joined the movement and began coaching relationships with people who were passionate to answer God’s call in beginning new congregations anywhere and everywhere they felt led.
Early on when General Assemblies were coming up, I would ask the movement initiator if they were planning to attend. Few, if any, did. Most recently, with GA coming in July, I have asked again. Among those I am coaching, most are going to attend! Some who have been movement initiators over the years are now church leaders on the General Board, in regions, racial/ethnic ministries, and general units – just to name a few. They are all around us! They are everywhere! Come to GA and hear about DisciplesNEXT from the new Minister of New Church Strategies, Rev. Dr. Jose Martinez. While at GA meet someone new, they just might be a movement initiator sparking hope and new life in you!
– Rev. Steven A. Smith, New Church Ministry coach
A condensed version of this post also appeared in the July issue of the New Church Know-It-All.