What is the End?
One of my favorite musicians is David Wilcox, a great singer-songwriter. His song, “Start with the Ending” is a clever song saying that most relationships end by being ‘honest’ when it’s too late to start over. His advice is to start with the ending – start by being honest and open, no pretending, no roleplaying. Then you may grow into that over time!
During the last session of the Fresh Expressions National Gathering, Phil Potter, who heads up the Fresh Expressions UK team, suggested that our new work as followers of Christ needs to begin with the end in mind. The end is not a church, it is not a ministry, it is not a mission. The end is spelled out in Revelation 22, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’”
Be a Place Where People Belong
We are not trying to create a delivery system or a structure or an institution. We hope to be a sign and foretaste of the time when God will make all things new and right. We are “a sign, first fruit of God’s purpose in Christ for the places” we are located.
Phil put it another way, quoting from near the end of “The Last Battle,” which is C.S. Lewis’ last book in the Chronicles of Narnia. The characters of the story arrive in the “real Narnia,” and the Unicorn puts his impression of where he is this way, “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.” Phil reminded me of what I’ve been after my whole ministry, that others would recognize in our communities a glimpse of “…home at last! This is my real country! I belong here.” We are partnering with the Spirit of God to become a place like that. The goal is that others will find they “belong here” – where God is with us.
Begin with the End in mind. Good advice from Phil Potter.
Hopefully this post will encourage you to listen to presentations from the 2018 National Gathering of FXUS. See what’s available here!
Craig has worked in the arena of fresh expressions of church for over 25 years. He was the organizing pastor of Trabuco Presbyterian Church of the PCUSA and pastored that congregation in Southern California for 19 years. Since, Craig has served the PCUSA both regionally (in the Pacific Northwest) and nationally (as Catalyst for 1001 New Worshiping Communities in the Western States). Craig developed a process for assessing potential church planting leadership, Discerning Missional Leadership and has assessed hundreds of individuals who have expressed interest in new expressions of church. He also helped develop the PCUSA’s national coaches network and was one of the authors of “Starting New Worshiping Communities: A Discernment Process”. Craig continues to coach and mentor those engaged in starting new work. Craig has recently accepted a new call as Pastor of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Thousand Oaks, CA. He says it’s time to assist an inherited congregation with embracing a mixed economy of Church for a changing context. Craig has his Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary.