Round four. Five if you count Future Travelers. And each lap always seems to have a moment when God shows up and reminds us of why we are there in the first place. To learn about joining Him on Mission. To be formed into His likeness. To bear witness to who He is in the world.
Just a few days ago, October 28 to be precise, about 45 of us NAB’ers gathered together in Vancouver for the beginning of another round of Blue Ocean. To be honest, Blue Ocean did not begin through some clever strategy of ours; God gave it to us, and He has used it to create a renewed vision of who He is and how we might join Him in our context. And it seems to get better, richer, and more revealing each time we begin afresh. Blue Ocean gets its name from the idea of the contrasting red ocean and blue ocean: the red ocean signifies the reality that so many churches are after the decreasing number of people who will come to church to find answers to their spiritual questions, while the blue ocean refers to the commitment that an increasing number have made around seeking to introduce those who will never darken the door of a church building to the person of Jesus Christ.
There are now more than 150 people who have gone through this year-long journey. Each year we begin in Vancouver at Grandview Calvary Church. This church is an example of what it means to pay attention to God at work in their context. They have done deep reflection on the nature of God – His missional nature – and then how we are formed into His image to participate with Him. They have gleaned His heart for their neighbour and neighbourhood. They have understood His revelation to us in scripture, in community, and in the circumstances of our lives. They have focused on prayer and caring for the least, the last, the lost, and the lonely.
Our objective in this first meeting with this new crew was to reflect deeply on scripture and who God is. Kent Carlson and I had the pleasure of helping weave a thread through the event, but it was the help of many others that brought richness to this latest round. Chris Gorman helped us to see the creative nature of God and how, when He sent His word, order was fashioned out of chaos. Kerry Bender reflected on the caring nature of God and His invitation for us to enter into caring for others. David Williams helped us to hear the voice of God in Scripture, and Mark Glanville, a pastor at Grandview Calvary, unpacked the riches of celebrating the feasts of God’s people in Deuteronomy. All of this, plus much more, helped us to consider the missionary nature of the God who sends His Son, His Spirit, and His people into the world to redeem all things.
We were thrilled again to see the kinds of people that God brought to participate. There was a wide range of people – church planters, established pastors, and men and women with years of experience in ministry. We heard stories of God at work in a variety of contexts and helped each other take this renewed vision of God at work in the world and ask deep questions of application for our own contexts. Walks and talks, and food and fellowship, can go a long way towards helping create a unity in God’s people.
It is only the beginning of the journey, but we are off to a good start. Next up, Sacramento and a few days to ask questions concerning the formation of our hearts and souls.
NAB Vice President of Missional Initiatives