Much as I love some of the efficiencies of our online gatherings …

… (as per the Leaders’ Morning with Mark Greene on Being and Making Disciples in the Workplace), and the possibilities they give to connect with a much wider cross-section of churches from around the nation, I’m also convinced that the gold standard is actually being in the same room.

Paul sent his apostolic letters, the reformation was in many ways spread by the printing press, but it’s in-person connections where the real engagement takes place.

Jesus spent most of his time ‘in the room’ with his disciples. He could see the whites of their eyes when he told them to feed the crowds, the fear on their faces when overwhelmed by the storm, the regret in Peter’s expression when he meets him on the shore after his resurrection. There is no better experience of growing and learning together than actually being physically with each other.

Despite the ongoing concerns that some will understandably have around Covid, we are free at last to meet without fear, and to connect without barriers. The human touch, the spontaneous laughter and the hugs are precious.

Last week I met for 24 hours in the Midlands with our new Kx leadership team and we connected in ways we could never have done online (much laughter and teasing). I’ve just returned from an in-person Learning Community in Crewe (see below). The peer to peer connections and the enjoyment of sharing food round the table created a completely different and wonderful experience of both friendship and learning.

So let’s make the most of the opportunities we have to gather, whether it’s round the meal table, in each other’s homes, or on a Sunday for a larger gathering. As the writer to the Hebrews said ‘don’t neglect meeting together’ Heb 10:25. It’s time to move away from self-protection and isolation, towards engaging with our sisters and brother, to be the glorious and beautifully connected body of Christ.

The Church of God on a Mission

Recently several churches met in Crewe for an opportunity to listen, reflect and interact together as church teams. During the Learning Community they spent the days planning and praying for the next 6 months of developing the culture of shared-life communities in which discipleship and missional practices can be embedded.

Here are some of the comments from team members who attended:

– The Church of God is on a mission and it is taking different twists and turns to fulfil its purpose
– Great to belong to a network that is in step with God’s mission and Spirit
– I love having protected time away from the distractions of home to focus on important things with my team.
– Looking forward to moving on with my church
– Encouraging to hear and learn from other churches

Many thanks to West Street Christian Fellowship who did an amazing job hosting us!!

Here are a few snaps of the church teams during the planning/discussion sessions.