Imagine if Churches Were Equipping and Sending!

Why did 80-plus men and women—including 14 senior pastors, four associate pastors, and more than 60 other church leaders—brave snow and ice to converge on Navigator headquarters on Friday, February 24? Some driving more than four hours to be there?

Imagine on the Road - 2
Dr. Neil Hudson challenges a room full of pastors and church leaders to equip their members for their scattered life outside the church.

They came because they wanted to learn how to empower Christ-followers in their churches to see their lives as meaningful and live as fruitful whole-life disciples on their daily frontlines in the world, wherever they find themselves.

Neil Hudson, author of Imagine Church: Releasing Dynamic Everyday Disciples, presented a six-hour workshop teaching and motivating these church leaders for a different perspective on church. Neil emphasized that church is not primarily a gathering place but a training and sending place. One of Neil’s key concepts was phrased in the form of a question: “How are you using the (at most) 10 weekly hours that your members spend in organized church activities to prepare them for the 110 waking hours weekly that they are living their lives in the world?” (Neil’s book, Imagine Church, is also available on Amazon.)

At least one participant is already thinking about changing the language used in his church: “We need to talk with people not about, ‘How can we use you in our church?’ but, ‘How can we help in your life, your 110?’ ” Another participant said the main takeaway was that the appeal of the church ought to be that “we’re inspiring people about living missional lives right where they are.”

We weren’t just “preaching to the choir.” We were sowing new seed among people who want to be engaged in more meaningful ways and just don’t know how. One lay church leader came to me during the day and said, “I’m so glad you invited me . . . . This is all new to me.” Another participant said, “This wasn’t about motivating people to take on more church activities. Therefore, this is a more sustainable approach to ministry.”

Several participants were moved by the diagram Neil showed them about being scattered into the world. The first grouping reflects a more traditional way of defining church: We are “red dots” who pull away to be together once a week. A better way, the missional way, is to see ourselves as the church scattered out in the world—what we in NCM often define as “where we live, work, and play.” One participant commented, “I need to make sure I ‘stay red’ when I’m out in the world.”

LICC Red Dots2
Diagram courtesy LICC (www.LICC.org.uk)

One of the senior pastors who has already begun to implement some of the Imagine Church concepts said to Neil, “I think you should change the name of your book. It should be called ‘Reality Church.’ My church is the ‘imaginary church.’ ”

“Imaginary” is not where “Imagine Church” comes from, but I like this pastor’s heart and desire to change his church culture. We in NCM in the Rocky Mountain Region will follow up with these pastors, most of whom we invited directly, to help them implement the concepts of whole-life discipleship as Neil, as well as The Navigators, defines a disciple: “learning to live like Jesus in your context at this moment.”

One of our guests wrote: “It was a really, really great day! Time very well spent and very inspiring!”

Don Pape, publisher at NavPress met with Neil on Thursday and attended part of the workshop, said it well: “Neil is onto something and Navigator Church Ministries could instigate a revolution.” May it be so.