The purpose of the ethos journey is to help churches become missional in their leadership, structure and discipling process, so that they are producing local missionaries, seeing neighbour and neighbourhood transformation, and so that they are moving towards multiplication at personal, group and congregational levels. This two-year journey involved teaching and equipping, coaching and peer clusters, and personal and church reading and engagement for the sake of the neighbourhood.
Definition – “a renewed theological vision of the church on mission, … serving as a sign, servant and foretaste of the kingdom of God.
Foundation – missional is about the very nature of God, who is at work in the world and invites His people to join Him on mission. (Theology – Missiology – Ecclesiology)
Framework – we believe that the best framework for becoming witnesses to the missio dei in every area of our life is to learn to Love God with all of our hearts, minds and strength, and to love our neighbours as we love one another.
There are a few key objectives that will come out of the Ethos Journey.
1. To create a Missional Plan and to help cultivate missional practices that orient congregational life around the mission of God.
2. To shape and structure the ministry of the church around the mission.
3. To assist the church in equipping leaders for ministry in their neighbourhoods.
4. To shift congregational culture so that the church identifies itself as local missionaries.
5. To help the church in equipping each member to live incarnationally, to share Christ in word and deed.
6. To multiply at all levels – personal, group and congregation.
Module 1 – Leadership: Missional Leadership – If we the leaders are not modeling what it means to be on mission with God, there is far less chance that our people will participate as local missionaries. This module explores issues of character and competencies for missional engagement, as well as the type of leadership that is crucial for mission. There is an emphasis on the leadership practices of Jesus rather than current CEO style thinking.
Reading has included books such as Missional Leadership, (Roxburgh and Romanuk), A Work of Heart (Reggie McNeal), Spiritual Leadership (Oswald Sanders). Engagement has included such exercises as Developing a Missional Plan, Spiritual Retreats, Neighbourhood Exegesis, Recreating Job Descriptions.
Module 2 – God and His People: Missional Theology and Ecclesiology - We need to have a why, before we answer the how. God is a missionary God who has always been on mission, because it is His nature. Therefore we explore the story of God (scripture) through a missional hermeneutic, coming to grip with issues of gospel, salvation, atonement and tracing the mission of God through the text in order to come to understand God’s missionary nature. Our God is one God, who is love, creator and Father to those who choose to follow Him.
We are His people made in His image. Our identity is firmly and deeply rooted in being children of God. Therefore if we are made in the image of a missionary God, it follows that we are a missionary people. This has deep ramifications for the way in which we understand community, grow in love, and continue to participate in the redemption of all of creation with Him as His children.
This module explores missional theology and ecclesiology.
Reading for this module has included such books as The Mission of God (Chris Wright), God’s Missionary People (Charles van Engen), The Continuing Conversion of the Church (Darrell Guder). Engagement has included such exercises as biblical book studies, neighbourhood engagements, furthering the missional plan, and exercises to deepen the sense of identity as a community on mission.
Module 3 – Change: From Maintenance to Mission How do we get from here to there? - Through a process of change. This module explores typical patterns of change and then encourages a more biblical approach through a process of discernment in order to help the church to not only discern where God is at work in the neighbourhood, but also to ensure the church has stopped inadvertently producing consumers and begins to be shaped around producing local missionaries.
Reading for this module has included Catch the Wind (Charles Ringma), and Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community (Tim Chester and Steve Timmis). Engagement for this module has included exercises in biblical study around change, and practical engagement of leadership around discernment and the further development of the missional plan.
Module 4 – Structure: Launching and Leading Mission Groups - In order for us to engage with God on mission, we need to be organized or structured around mission. It is crucial that the church is structured in a manner where each person bears responsibility for becoming a local missionary in their context. Many churches are structured to produce consumers.
This module looks at the structure needed in order to become a church of mission groups and then how to develop mission group leaders. It is crucial for this development of future leaders, as we believe that God only gives us the people whom He can entrust us to apprentice properly.
Reading for this module has included Handbook for Churches and Mission Groups (Gordon Cosby), and Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide (Mike Breen & Alex Absolom). Engagement for this module has been shaped around the initiation of a Mission Group system for the church (different approaches depending on the context) and the development of a leadership development system.
Module 5 – Formation: Shaped in the Character of Christ - Some have said there is an inward and an outward aspect to the missional journey. Although we may think it impossible to separate these two aspects of our life with Christ, it does help us to identify certain components that we can work in our lives.
This module is about the formation of the person into the image of the Son. If we are children of God, then we need to be holy as the Father is Holy. Christ came to demonstrate how to live so that we reflect the nature of the Father.
This module helps us to do just that around aspects of the inner life. This module however is not just about personal formation, but rather about the formation of the community as a whole. Issues of formation and communal spiritual practices will be explored.
Reading for this module has included such books as Renovation of the Heart (Dallas Willard), and Living the Resurrection (Eugene Peterson). Engagement for this module has included such exercises as developing spiritual practices for the church, developing a new formation curriculum, engaging all of the church in an apprenticing role.
Module 6 – Neighbours: Creating Local Missionaries - This module is the second half of the above process. If we are to be formed into the image of Christ, living as if Christ were living His life through us, we also need to grow in the areas of living as Christ in the outward journey. This means we learn to live as neighbours.
One of the exciting things about the missional movement has been the emphasis on neighbourhood. God has brought a renewed vision for redeeming the neighbourhood to His people over the past 10 years. It is crucial that we develop local neighbourhood missionaries. You cannot be a follower of Christ without following Him into mission in the neighbourhood.
Reading for this module has included Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission (Tim Chester & Steve Timmis), Don’t Invite Them to Church: Moving from a Come and See to a Go and Be Church (Karen Wilk), and The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighbourhoods (John McKnight and Peter Block). Engagement for this module has been shaped around practices of hospitality, the development of Mission Group Focus, and the engagement of neighbourhood discernment and transformation.
Teaching – Each module has a two-day teaching component. Although these days have been delivered in a variety of methods, for the most part it is a two-day retreat for input and group discussion around the basic elements of the module. The Forge network allows for input from many different missional leaders to ensure the best teaching.
Coaching – Coaching is an essential component to the ethos journey. This monthly meeting encourages each church not only to sharpen their missional plan but also to ensure that they are making traction towards the goal of multiplying.
Clusters – The cluster meets monthly for a half day (in person or online) in order to encourage each other towards their goals and to keep one another accountable for the work they need to do. Our goal is to become missional and multiply.
Reading - Each module has some reading that is essential to development, and many other suggested readings for those who make the time.
Engagement - Each module has a set of exercises of engagement for the church to begin not just to be taught about missional but also to “catch” what it means to join God on mission. We believe deeply in action-reflection learning.
Leadership Development - As part of the process, we believe that it is helpful to have a Forge team member into your church at least twice a year to do an evening or Saturday morning around helping the church to catch what we are learning in the teaching and clusters. Outside voices add value.