The travels of a missional minister

KrisAnne Swartleyby KrisAnne Swartley, Doylestown congregation

I am grateful for Doylestown leadership’s blessing to travel March 24-29. My first stop was at Eastern Mennonite University for three days. I met with various campus leaders including President Loren Swartzentruber, athletic director Dave King and undergraduate campus pastor Lana Miller, as well as several professors in both the college and seminary. It was a privilege to hear them talk about the passion they have for creating a learning environment that includes high quality training for vocation as well as a solid foundation of faith.

The best part of my visit was meeting students who have a desire to pursue ministry. They asked questions like: How do you find time to refresh your own soul?  What is the most difficult part of pastoring?  What is the best part? I have great hope for the future of the church after meeting these young adults. I was privileged to speak in seminary chapel on Thursday about Ruth and Naomi and Boaz, and how making space for outsiders creates space for God to work miracles in our midst. I shared several stories of what that looks like for us at Doylestown as we continue on the missional journey.

The second part of my trip took me to Alexandria, Virginia where I attended the Fresh Expressions National Gathering. The group of 200+ was made up of Southern Baptists, Anglicans, Anabaptists, Presbyterians and more!

We discussed the rapidly changing culture in the USA and how to connect with people who don’t know Jesus and have no interest in attending a church on Sunday morning. We talked about the need for discipleship and the ways the Holy Spirit leads us to “improvise” in whatever local context we find ourselves, much like the early church in Acts. I heard stories of coffee houses, single parenting groups, married couples opening their homes for family-style meals with neighbors, after-school tutoring centers, a “messy church” built around doing crafts and science experiments and a “sweaty church” built around active games and sports. It affirmed much of what we are learning at Doylestown about the missional journey, and it also inspired me to continue to encourage the ideas and dreams that are bubbling up within our congregation.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the weekend:

  • When you choose to keep company with Jesus, you give up the right to choose the rest of the company around you. You keep company with whoever Jesus chooses.
  • “These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise and its mission to seek out new life and new civilization…to boldly go where no one has gone before.” That is for us, Church! And if you can’t boldly go, then for heaven’s sake, at least GO!
  • If you are comfortable more than 70% of the time, then there is a problem, because the church in Acts was hardly EVER comfortable. They were always racing to catch up to what the Spirit was doing next.
  • Grace engages the world as it is now. The fact is, the world has changed, though we never gave it permission to do so. Acting as if it hasn’t changed and continuing to do the same old things, simply is not faithful.
  • 40% of new leaders in these new, creative ministries are LAY LEADERS–not clergy or professional ministers. These are courageous, everyday people.
  • God is into the multiplication of the small. You don’t have to lead a “mega”-anything.