Blog update from Beatrice Robinson recipient

Monday April 13 2015 by Katherine

St Mark's student Tracey Matthews was awarded a Beatrice Robinson Scholarship to do a month-long study tour looking at various approaches to training, formation and deployment of missional leaders. Each week in the next month Ms Matthews will blog about her travels. 

Week 1 (ending 11 April)
I touched down in Dallas a week ago for the first leg of a month long research trip in the US and UK.  During this time I will be meeting with a range of missional communities and organisations who are working to equip lay and ordained people to develop communities of mission. I expected to be challenged and stretched during this trip and if the first week is any indication, this is sure to be the case. 
I travelled to Dallas on invitation from Elaine Heath and Larry Duggins who founded the Missional Wisdom Foundation (MWF) in 2009. MWF provides opportunities for clergy and laity to learn how to live in intentional community and develop micro-communities of contemplative prayer and missional action. This is achieved through a combination of distance learning, immersion experiences, spiritual direction, training retreats, and tailored coaching.
During the week I was privileged to participate in Amani New Day worship and visit with a number of MWF’s intentional community houses, where I experienced radical hospitality, table fellowship and intentional living.  The work of MWF is underpinned by a Rule of Life, centred around Prayer, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness; which provides a framework for discipleship and formation.   As I met with various members of the MWF community,  I observed how the rule provided guidance for practical living of faith in everyday life.  This style of formation is driven by a model of contemplation and action; rather than the program style of discipleship that tends to dominate our church life.  This move away from program to relationship is a common theme in the emerging /contextual/fresh expressions movement; and  a primary focus of my research. 
A focus on innovative partnerships and collaboration across boundaries is another key theme emerging.  I saw this in action through ‘The Mix’ and ‘The Grove’ co-working initiatives, which is another aspect of the MWF. Co-working provides a ‘fresh expression’ of mission by facilitating collaboration and community engagement through shared work spaces. MWF is using this concept to partner with local churches to transform surplus church property into places of community engagement and collaboration. ‘The Mix’ is an example, where a co-working space has been developed in the basement of White Rock United Methodist.  Catalyst and manager of the ‘The Mix’ Daryn DeZengotita describes the work as ‘Accelerated serendipity’ where mutual cooperation and collaboration provides space for the holy spirit to create coincidences and ‘ahah’ spiritual moments.  I experienced this firsthand during my visit to The Mix, where I  met Ken Janke co-founder of The Grove and leader of Groundworks.  Ken suggested I should meet with Johnny Sertin in London, who by coincidence I had been trying to connect with. Within minutes Ken had called Johnny in the UK and firmed up my meeting with him.  This sure was ‘accelerated serendipity’ in action. 
There is so much more to tell but space does not permit at this point. If I had to sum up my first week in a few words, it would be: service, relationship, partnership, collaboration and innovation.  God’s spirit is clearly moving among us in fresh and surprising ways.  Our job is to find the missional imagination necessary to get on board this movement. This is the theme for my trip and you will hear more about how this is also happening in various other places.