Those are often the first words a new computer system displays when it first comes online. It’s meant to let the user know that all went well with the install and it’s now time to start the real work. That in many ways describes what the New Leaf Network wants you to know. We’ve been working at getting ourselves installed, we are now basically operational, and the time has come to begin the real work. In these few short paragraphs I hope to give you a peek into what it took to get us online, and what we are starting to do.
What it took to get us online
I’ve been noticing something going in Canada for quite some time.
God is up to something new in our country.
That’s not weird, of course. He’s always doing stuff like that.
Pay attention to what God is doing. He often places our calling inside of what we notice.
Here’s what I see: The Spirit is seeding Canadian cities and towns with a new kind of people who are wanting to form a new way of life together. There is a common thread in their ideas — a kinship in how they want to live — a connection in how they go about things.
They feel a lot like new wine bursting from old wineskins.
This group doesn’t all live in the same area of Canada,
don’t read all the same books,
belong to the same denomination,
don’t necessarily share a common theology/doctrine,
and are shaped by distinct histories and traditions.
I have also noticed that people like this have a way “of being” that often sounds like good news to, what the demographics people like to call, the Nones and the Dones. So I chalk that up to God being up to something.
In many ways what I have been noticing began almost 20 years ago when I was a part of my first church plant in Kingston ON. The conversation was much smaller back then. There weren’t many books or conferences that described and defined what it was that we were doing.
We just did it.
Over the years a lot of the people that were involved in those early projects are no longer around. That hurts. I had hoped they would be making the whole journey with me. These were brave people who risked much for what they believed in. When things didn’t work out as expected–in some cases they didn’t work out at all–they often fell out of the race.
That hurts even more.
It’s not only hurts me, it injures the church in general. We need still need them.
We also need their stories. Their stories are community property. We need their hard-won wisdom. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a sustainable community out there that knew how to care for them.
I hope that’s about to change…
The New Leaf Network is a community of like-minded folks who feel compelled to nurture and support these kinds of people in their work. We want to make the burden a little lighter. To make the journey a little less lonely. And to offer a place in a learning community that makes the landscape a little more comprehensible.We want to make the burden a little lighter. To make the journey a little less lonely. Click To Tweet
What we are starting to do
The past several years have been all about the days of small beginnings. People here and there gathering around our table and dreaming together. Here are some of their ideas:
What if we started phoning all of these “whatchamacallit” churches, get their details and put them on a map? That way if anyone is looking for a “whatchamacallit” church they can find one. Or if people leave their “whatchamacallit” church and move to another city they can find another likeminded community to belong to. So we tried it out, people are using our maps.
What if we started meeting regionally to talk and learn from each other? What if instead of gathering at the feet of some church guru we learned from each other? What if instead of always sitting and listening to someone at the front we spent more of the day in conversation with each other? So, we revived the idea of Learning Parties. We’ve had two so far in the past 12 months and have plans for more this year.
What if we created our own training event for church planters? What if instead of using books and ideas from other countries we collected the thoughts and wisdom of Canadian church planters and learned together? So a handful of denominations gathered their prospective planters together a few times a year to participate in Church Plant Design Shops. It didn’t just stop there either. These denominations have started working together more and more. We are deepening our collective commitment to nurture and support our planters together.
What if we created a podcast that featured the stories of planters and starters from across Canada? Lots of us have secretly thought about how cool it would be to start a podcast. The challenge is it’s a lot of work for just one person. So we started a collaborative podcast. Contributors are starting to come forward and lend their voices and stories. We release new episodes every week. People are starting to tune in and have begun letting us know that these stories are inspiring them.
What if we started a collaborative blog? What if it reflected on the Canadian soul? What if it told stories about life, love, work and dreams in the Canadian context? What if it dared to imagine what God’s kingdom would look like here? In this place? Well, you’re reading the first post.
I don’t know what the future holds for this network. I know that God is the one responsible to bringing these kinds of Christian workers to my attention. I know that God has drawn others around the table and they’re paying attention too. Collectively we have a lot of hopes and dreams.
I am confident that God started this work and that He will help us finish what he started.
I think you’ll be inspired by what you see.