“A few weeks ago we held a 4-day event called Pilgrimage in Sheffield – it’s an opportunity for leaders from around the world to come and experience the DNA of our movement first-hand. There’s teaching up front, seminars, time to reflect and discuss, socials, and plenty of time to talk to people who are living out the Lifeshapes, Missional communities, Huddles etc. in their day-to-day lives. It’s a great opportunity and we love it. We do the same thing on a smaller scale at our one-day Workshops.
I love this part of my job – it’s a chance to meet people from all over the place and hear what God is doing in their context. To hear how He has been speaking and leading them for years. To celebrate with them the fruit that they’ve seen, and commiserate over the battles fought and failures they’ve experienced. We’re one body after all, and there are people all over the world following the call to look more and more like Jesus.
It’s such a privilege to see this and get a picture of how God is working in and through others
And it’s such a privilege to share from our experience – to be honest and open about our failures and what we’ve learned from them. To share our successes and let people see “under the bonnet” as we unpack the things that led to those breakthroughs. We share the basic principles of discipleship and mission we’ve learned – talking about the call Jesus gives us to follow him and be part of his family, and therefore part of his mission to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples. We talk about the importance of imitation and how we can allow others to imitate Christ as we open our lives up so they can imitate us. We talk about the vehicles we use – lifeshapes, missional communities, huddle – and how they can be helpful structures and tools that allow us to embrace a lifestyle of mission and discipleship. And we do it all with lots and lots of stories.
One story that reminds me of the importance of imitation relates to our call to be living examples instead of waiting until we’re perfect examples. I know that there are areas in my life where I wouldn’t want people to imitate my lack of freedom, or a fear of stepping out. (One of the areas I’ve identified in my own life has been expressing myself in worship through singing.) But discipling others means inviting them into our lives (the good and the bad parts!) and I’m thankful for the people God has put around me who can be an example to me and show me how they are taking steps of freedom in different areas.
These aren’t just people who tell me “I used to struggle with this but now I’m free”, but people who show me “I’m not as free as I could be but I am on a journey and this is how I’m working through it with God.’”
I can see how they embrace God’s truth, how they take small steps of obedience, how those are celebrated, how they learn and try again when they fail, and how they grow more and more free. The areas where they are stepping out aren’t always the same as mine, but the principles are the same, and being able to imitate their journey gives me concrete, in-the-flesh examples to learn from.
By seeing this journey of discipleship close up, I’ve been able to embrace the challenge of walking in more freedom (for example in singing in worship) – though there’s still more to come! And as I do, I have been able to allow those I’m discipling to imitate me. They can learn what it looks like to step out and embrace the challenge that God is giving me. There are lots of situations like this in leadership, where others have the chance to learn from us “on the way” as we look to overcome our fears and areas of weakness. The good news is that we don’t have to wait until we’ve overcome all this completely before we let others see our lives. I’ve learnt that in order for others to follow me, I don’t need to be a perfect example, just a living one!
Every time we do something like a Workshop, I’m inspired again to ask God what He’s saying to me and to work out how to put that into practice
It doesn’t matter how many times I hear the teaching, or share a story, there’s always something new that God reveals. And there’s something special about hearing different people share their stories of living this out in their day-to-day lives.
I love seeing how people’s eyes light up as God either confirms what He’s been saying to them already or brings new revelation. As He brings clarity or as He continues to call them to go deeper in discipleship and further in mission.
Our aim in all we do is for people to be inspired and encouraged to take small steps of obedience in what God is calling them to. And as they do that, we get to stand with them as they process how to take those next steps. It’s not about simply copying what we’ve seen in Sheffield, or Aarhus, or Perth. It’s about hearing the principles and being encouraged to live them out in the place that God has called US to be. There is such freedom that comes through these encounters and we are encouraged by the testimony we hear of this again and again of those who are standing up to be living examples for others.”
Pip leads the 3DM Europe Connections Team in Sheffield, developing new and existing relationships with churches and leaders, as well as overseeing all of our events and workshops. She has also been involved in the local church in Sheffield for a number of years, leading Missional Communities.
We have one Workshop confirmed so far this year (in Harrogate on 27th September), but will be adding more to the calendar in the coming months.