It had been there all along, silently, quietly and slowly forming in obscurity all around me. A little here, a little there, but far from the magnitude and impact of what I saw in The Table vision, and what had excited me to my core! The Table vision had shown me what was possible, and what was in the heart of God - and I was ruined for anything less.
The season of the "D's" was not spent in just praying, waiting and
idleness. In fact, I was seeing God do incredible things on mission and ministry trips in different countries other than the United States during these years. This caused me to beg God to do what I saw Him do in other countries, here at home in my own relationships, neighborhood, city, region and country!
I've always believed that God prefers to direct our steps as we keep walking, over lighting a match to our butt to get us moving. So even while walking through desert seasons, and seeing very little of The Table vision manifest, I was starting, facilitating, and participating in many various types of Simple/Organic Churches during this time and through these years. We saw a lot of fruit from these groups. No two were ever the same - the make up the participants, the duration of the group, the specific "issue" we might be gathering around, how we gathered, etc. was varied. Some gatherings were scheduled, and others were fluid (meaning they happened without scheduling). Some met for a year or more, and others a few months, and still others were so fluid that they were far more relational based and they were lived in spontaneity. They were a small example of the First Leg of The Table. However, an example I could tangibly see, and I was encouraged.
One Simple Church that Tom and I have fond memories of was predominately made up of those with mental health disorders. (I would venture to say that this type of church planting does not get on the list of current church planting books and seminars.) This Simple Church formed naturally as we reached out to a guy we knew who struggled with his mental health, and then he brought others, and so on, and so forth. This group had some Christians in it, and others who became Christians through the fellowship and healing prayer of group members as they ministered to one another in Christ. Again, it was only a small glimpse of The First and Second Leg of The Table, but it was there.
I constantly wondered: were there others out there who were also living disconnected from the traditional once or twice a week Christian experience, and programed life of fellowship and ministry? Were their others who like us, who were living and experiencing fellowship and mission with others without a program facilitating it to both Christians and non Christians?
Those people that had a lifestyle that resembled more than anything else, an unknown adventure of discovery of what church really was, coupled with the natural expression of the Great Commission as we lived our lives WITH, not separate from, those who don't yet know Christ? Where were they? How could I find them?
Towards the end of my "D" season, I began to hear of others meeting in Simple Churches. Although they were hard to find, just knowing about their existence was encouraging. Most were, "under the radar", in the unobtrusive and quiet manner of Simple Church. I was spending quite a bit of my time explaining Simple, Organic, Missional life and fellowship to people, and I saw there was increasingly more and more interest in it. It seemed daily that God was crossing my path with others who were "looking for more" in their relationship with God and others. God was drawing people into this paradigm.
I began to pray about how to bring connections. How to connect the people that I was meeting, and still others I knew must be out there, that I had no knowledge about- but God did. I didn't know how I could possibly identify, reach and pull people together - but I was excited about trying if God was going to do all the real work! I had heard Neil Cole at a House2House conference in 2006, teach a workshop called Greenhouse. Neil spoke the things that had been in my heart and mouth for many years, but he spoke them WAY BETTER ! I contacted Paul Kaak, Neil's co-author of Greenhouse and CMA (Church Multiplication Associates), to share my story and ask to sponsor a Greenhouse for my region. That was the first of 5 Greenhouses (GH1 & GH2's) that brought many people together from all over the region and country (and even from Australia for a GH!). I also developed a conference called Living The Mission, and helped promote and involve people in a House2House regional conference. These gatherings brought people together who were in different "streams" of Christianity, who lived in different areas, who had no knowledge or connection with one another, but shared an interest in Simple, Organic, Missional paradigms. They were lay people, paid ministry people, new in Christ or mature in Christ, male, female, young and old. They shared their stories, encouraged one another, learned from one another, formed connections, built relational networks, formed new Simple Church expressions or outreaches, or went back to traditional church with new zeal and organic life in Christ principles. The fruit of these gatherings (and this is just a small piece of what the Third Leg represented) was evident. I began to see, year after year, more of The Table vision form, especially the First and Third Leg, although there is a long way to go in the Third Leg of The Table vision of the Church coming together. This is just a short synopsis for a blog post.
Some of you wonder if there are others in your area or region who are living Simple, Organic, Missional life. Many of you wonder how to connect with those in your region. Hosting city/regional gatherings of some sort, is one way for you to see God bring people together that you would never had known or had access to. Greenhouse, Momentum (House2House's regional conferences) or other venues like these are great ways to see God bring connections and relational strength to the Simple, Organic, Missional movement in your area. Contact www.cmaresources.org for information on sponsoring a Greenhouse, or contact Ken Eastburn at www.house2house.com for information about a Momentum conference if your interested.
So what's up with the Second Leg of The Table vision?
Sadly, not much....let's talk........