By Cam Roxburgh
VP of Missional Initiatives
We have finished another year of Blue Ocean. This “appetizer” for what it means to become part of the missional movement in the NAB has been going for 6 years now, including our “Lite” version of Blue Ocean that we did on line in the midst of the pandemic. We had a smaller group this year as we started back in person, which enabled us to get to know each other well and grow deeper in relationships.
The year began in Vancouver, where we wrestled with what it means that God is missional in his nature. It is not an activity of who he is, but rather a characteristic of his being. This makes a world of difference. No longer do we say that we are bringing the Kingdom, but rather that God’s rule and reign are advancing because of Christ and we point out to others where we see God at work.
In February, we came to our second cohort meeting in Sacramento. Here we learned together that the Father looks like Jesus and that we as children of God need to be formed in the image and character of Christ. This is such a crucial point when it comes to participating in the Kingdom. Our time in Sacramento was rich and formative, as several key leaders shared from Scripture about what it means for us to be formed in the image of God.
Finally, we arrived in Chicago for our third time together. In this cohort, we sat around a table with David Fitch and dealt with what it means to become a people who are good news for a world without Jesus. We wrestled with issues of antagonism, of unity, and of finding ways to create space for the Spirit of God to work in and through us to a world that is so in need of the forgiveness of Christ.
We had a great group of people from a number of churches this past year. Please consider becoming a part of the next cohort that starts in October 2023.
As I walked into the Hyatt hotel, I had a strange déjà vu experience. Hadn’t I just been here?
The answer was yes – in September 2022, as we held the previous Bonfire. I was delighted by the turnout with such a short period of time in between our two major events. And believe me, both times were superb.
Bonfire is the event where we gather together those who are leaning in and participating within the NAB as we seek to join God on mission to the places where he has sent us. Typically we have come together once a year to tell stories, to hear stories, to get input, and to encourage one another as we seek to give our all in joining with Jesus. These are tough days, and we need companions for the journey. Both Bonfire gatherings in the past year have been such a gift to those who have come for all of the reasons listed above.
In April 2023, we were challenged by David Fitch around issues of leadership. We all know too many stories of leaders who have been abusive in one way or another. We have bought into the strategy of the world when it comes to leadership, not in the way of Jesus. But David pushed us hard (with a gentle spirit) to reconsider so much of what we have heard in the past number of years. We need leaders with a surrendered will to Christ and an openness to the Spirit to create in them a sense of humility and holiness that does not work in power but rather gives it away. Many who were present are looking forward to the release of his new book in 2024.
Our next Bonfire is still 14 months away at the beginning of the Triennial in St. Paul, Minnesota. If you have been a part of this growing movement within the NAB, please make plans to join with us for a day before Triennial, and let us know how we might help.
Recently, Matt Styles and I had the privilege of leading some of the people of Hope Community Church in Detroit, Michigan, (George and Michelle Johnson) through a weekend experience called “Discovery.” This Friday evening and Saturday day workshop brought an energy around joining God on mission that already has encouraged the church.
We no longer live in a day and age where people are attracted to church services on Sunday mornings. Nor is it an age where there is an automatic authority given to the church or its leaders. And language that was once familiar to everyone around, is no longer common vernacular.
So how do we live as missionaries in the culture we find ourselves in? That was the topic of the weekend as we looked at issues of worship, discipleship, stewardship, evangelism, and community. All these components in loving God with our hearts, minds, and strength and loving our neighbours as we love one another are crucial aspects in joining with God on mission. We had great times in the text, around the tables, and in telling stories of our experience with God.
Our time with Hope Community Church was a wonderful gift to us – and hopefully to them. We would be willing to come to any NAB church to spend a weekend in helping equip us all in becoming local missionaries.