This blog post is part of a series on the core values of the New Leaf Network. Advisory Team member Greg Langman reflections on how New Leaf seeks to Join what God is already doing in the world.

As a kid growing up my favourite cereal was Froot Loops.  Yes, it’s true…although in our health conscious society this is not really something I care to admit, but it is true. I loved the colours, the taste, and even the smell of them. In fact, the smell was one of their key advertising features. Toucan Sam, the bird featured on the box, would fly around during the commercial and would repeat this phrase, “Follow your nose, it always knows.” If Toucan Sam wanted to find Froot Loops he didn’t just look for them he followed their distinct aroma.

Have you ever noticed that you can often smell something before you can see it?  What aroma catches your attention? For some of you it is the aroma of coffee. Others, it is the smell of baking bread from a bakery or the over priced popcorn from the Kernel’s kiosk in the mall. For others of you it may be a person’s perfume or home that comes to your mind when you think of a pleasing aroma.

The sense of smell is very powerful, and it was in the midst of a season of discernment regarding beginning a New Venture in Binbrook, Ontario that a buddy of mine asked a very interesting question while on our prayer walk. Cal simply asked, “Where do you sense the aroma of Christ?”  

I had never thought about the presence of Jesus giving off an aroma. What if you could sense the presence of Jesus’ in a situation or place before you could actually see the physical evidence? What would change if I became attuned to the aroma of Jesus and followed it?

On that prayer walk Cal wasn’t suggesting that I could actually smell Jesus. However, that day set me on a brand new trajectory of discernment that has significantly impacted the way we start New Ventures in the C&MA. One of our first questions when we meet with an emerging leader or a local church that wants to start a New Venture is simply this, “What is God doing there?” We want to discern what God is doing in the life of the leader, the leadership team, and the community God is trying to lead us to. We want to notice where God is at work not just by what we can see with our eyes because it is already there, but we want to follow what we can not see. We want to follow the aroma of Christ that over time will lead us to the more concrete work he wants us to join him in.

We want to follow the aroma of Christ that will lead us to the concrete work he wants us to join him in. Click To Tweet

Since that prayer walking day with Cal 9 years ago, I’ve had the privilege of seeing over 50 New Ventures emerge across eastern Canada that have simply sought to join God in what he was already doing. Many of these New Ventures have become churches and some have become ministries of existing churches.  There are also other New Ventures that no longer exist and yet we celebrate them as well because they too were faithful in joining God in what he was doing in that season.  

Following what God is doing with a sense of expectancy doesn’t always end with the results we might want. Are you okay with that? Is your church okay with that? Jesus is the head of the church, and if we are paying attention he leaves evidence of his presence and his invitations to join him on mission. Sometimes the evidence is bold and can’t be missed; however, my experience has been that before I can see the evidence of God at work there is a subtle aroma of Christ’s presence which can be discerned and followed if you have learned to follow your nose.