Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Now and Not-Yet Kingdom of God

For the past three years I have had the joy and the privilege of working with and learning from these 49 men and 2 women. Representing at least nine different evangelical denominations, we met together every six months with the goal of accelerating the rate of church planting in France. Among the participants, there is a vision to plant ninety new churches over the next three years...some denominations planting as many as 30 churches in that time frame, some as few as 4. All seeking to make their best contribution towards seeing God's kingdom come in France.

I was not on a denominational team for this project, but on the team that was facilitating the gatherings. My specific role was to plan and lead the times of spiritual reflection and formation. The facilitation team had decided early on that we wanted each gathering to be marked by a spiritual rhythm, so we did not simply begin and end each day with prayer; rather, we paused several times each day to read scripture, intercede for each other, and listen to God.

One of our final spiritual exercises was to build an "Altar of Remembrance." First we read the story of Moses and the battle of the Amalakites. At the end of the story, Moses builds an altar to the Lord and calls it, "The Lord Is My Banner." I talked about how the name given to an altar expressed both gratitude for what God had done and hope for God would do in the future. I then asked each person to consider what name they would give to an altar that was built to commemorate what God had done in and through us over the past three years. Next, each participant was given a card that had his or her own photo attached to it. They were asked to write the name of  their altar next to their photo. Finally, each person was invited to come to the front of the room to share the name of their altar, and then to add their card to our communal altar. In this way we proclaimed together what God has done AND declared our hope for what He would continue to do. Here was how our altar turned out:

It was a holy moment. We concluded by singing several songs of gratitude and praise together. So there's a small peek at one of the ways God is working in France. To Him be the glory!

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