Next week the Salt & Light family hosts its annual meeting of the International Apostolic Team, this time near Kansas City, USA. It's my privilege to be part of these gatherings serving as Team Administrator, supporting Steve Thomas in his overall leadership of that team. Over the years we've had some great times of worship and intercession, discussed a range of fascinating topics, and built strong relationships together across continents and cultures.
In no particular order, here are ten things I'm particularly looking forward to:
- Learning from other cultures! Different cultures have different strengths and weaknesses, and we can learn a lot from each other. The global south have a lot to teach us in the Western church about faith and prayer. I love the 'can do' attitude of the American church. I'm impressed by the rigorous determination (despite political pressures) to multiply I see in the Indian church. I could go on!
- Going Global! Some years ago God started speaking to us about the priority of unreached people groups, those cultures and communities when there are not yet enough Christians to see a self-multiplying movement started. God challenged us to send teams to people and places beyond our existing relationships and spheres of interest. I look forward to hearing stories of courage, growth and faith.
- Seeing what God is doing! We are a family of families, with diverse approaches and styles, but together God has called us to church-plant, raise up strong apostolic bases, raise up apostolic ministry teams, train indigenous leaders and to impact and change society. I look forward to stories of progress, of breakthrough and of innovation.
- Being accountable, encouraged and challenged! These agreed priorities (above) must look very different in each culture as we work with different strategies to suit our context, culture and the leading of the Holy Spirit. But despite that we have agreed to be accountable for how we are applying ourselves to the call of God. What has changed since we last met? What needs to change before we next meet? These and other questions are good for us, and bring an 'iron sharpens iron' dynamic to our friendships.
- Working together on our Core Commitments! A set of values and practices that characterise our family of churches, it is time to refresh and renew Core Commitments together. I have the privilege of coordinating a working group of younger leaders (in this context, 'younger' is a relative term, under 50!) to look at that together and make a proposal to the full team.
- Worshipping in another culture! Musical styles vary, but we worship the same God! I love worship, and I'm looking forward to being led by our American hosts, and then to some truly international worship as our team gets together.
- Catching up with friends in God! We're not just colleagues, or acquaintances, or co-workers - but friends and family! Once of our great founding values in S&L is that of building relationally; seeing church not as a thing but as a family; being committed to each other and not just to the mission we are on. I am looking forward to refreshing those friendships as we meet for 10 days.
- Talking about Millennials! A growing number of books and blogs are being written about how to engage this generation, currently in their 20s and 30s, in leadership, work and church. They bring unique gifts and skills, and challenges and culture. To help our international family best understand, benefit from and release this generation into ministry, we will be looking at this important topic together.
- Welcoming David MacFarlane! To help us keep focused on the all-important task of becoming more missional, we have invited back David to be with us. David works for the Billy Graham Association and previously ministered at one of our international conferences in Oxford. We're looking forward to his encouragement and equipping as we seek to turn our churches outward, to be more concerned with the 'one' than the 99!
- Banter with Americans! Best of all, I look forward to teasing my American friends about their culture, peculiarities and tastes. Of course, I get back as good as I give! It's easier to do humour face-to-face - it never quite works out well on social media; someone always gets offended. But next week, no holds barred!