Wow what a rich feast we had at the National Teams Gathering at St Barnabas in Cambridge, with the inputs from John McGinley, the 5 APEST contributors, and from Ruth Tormey of Stewardship.

We were left wanting more. John especially helped us consider the fractured and challenging church-scape we are currently in, as well as the opportunities this unique season give us.

If I was to share my own takeaway it would be this. We are in a pruning season, but also on the cusp of the real church emerging, one which is built on true disciples of Jesus who have learned to:

  • Live from love
  • Lead with mission
  • Link with others to fulfil that dream (APEST complementarity and city-wide unity)
  • Lean into the future with anticipation of a job that can and will be completed, culminating in his return.

We are all facing limitations and restrictions, in finance, volunteers, and emerging leaders. This forces us to look to be and do church differently. The Microchurch journey will increasingly become the default for those who are not funded by huge swathes of CofE reserves.

Pulling back from the

  • Sunday-centric
  • Building-based
  • Clergy-led

type of church will free us to build church like they did in the first 300 years of our history of the body of Christ. This was when the church grew from 120 on the day of Pentecost to 20 million by the time Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, 10 years after the Edict of Milan in 313AD.

So, now is not a time to shrink back, it is a time for collective courage. We need each other in this journey into the unknown. What we do know is that the last cry of a dying organisation is ‘We’ve never done it this way before,’

What are the key distinctives of Microchurches? I’m sure every man and his dog will have their own answer to this question, but for me, as opposed to Missional Community they:

  • Are fully church (not a small group of a church)
  • Operate with agreed/negotiated greater autonomy, for example how often they join in with the gathered expressions of church
  • Enjoy the flow of resources (including finances) from the centre to the edge, not the other way round
  • Connect to other Microchurches by mature people with APEST gifting who help to equip the Microchurches to become mature expressions of church, to raise and appoint more leaders, to plant more Microchurches, and to stay on the straight and narrow
  • May exist outside of the context of a bigger church body, but always desire to be part of a network

And like Missional Communities, they are communities of shared life where disciples make disciples, look for people of peace, grow by new birth, and seek to multiply. However, many Missional Communities fail to achieve this because they never have the space, support, or permission to forge a more autonomous and ultimately fruitful path.

It’s time to explore, experiment and believe God for more, even when more appears to be less!