NEWSLETTER: Missional Unity

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     Thanks so much for reading this month's news from The Initiative, a community committed to "walking in deeper friendship with Jesus and his followers, so that the love of Christ might exceed all divisions." We do this primarily through prayer, sharing of our lives, and proactive work for greater unity. 
     This month, I'm reflecting on the four verbs of our way missional unity, plus highlighting a really practical (free!) online event you'll want to consider joining at the beginning of October.

     Looking at the covenant of our community (which I often do), I've been reminded recently that it is constructed around action. The opening words are: "we commit to an intentional initiative..." The implication is that we don't merely want to think about unity or talk about unity, but to do something about unity. Our desire to do something is reflected in the rest of the covenant, when we say how we will be intentional. There are four verbs that capture the essence of those commitments: Walk, pray, share, work. Let me elaborate briefly on each of them:
  • Walk: "Walking" has been the foundational understanding of Christian discipleship from the very beginning. Jesus' first disciples literally walked with him (and each other) from place to place and in the process were formed by him to be his followers and embody his character. Just as Jesus "rubbed off" on them during their journeys, they also rubbed off on one another and became companions (friends!) along the way. Clearly our discipleship looks different, but Jesus has called us friends too. And in our daily journey with him, he is shaping us to be better friends with all those who also call themselves his followers.
  • Pray: There's a reason that daily prayer is the practice that we commit to first. In prayer, we are reminded that unity between Christians is a work of God and not just a human endeavor. In prayer, we are renewed in our dependence on God to do His will in seeking the oneness of His people. Our ideas of what a "radical increase of love in the whole body of Christ" might look like need to be shaped in the presence of the One who is Love. And Jesus has left us a prayer for missional unity in John 17:23 that we can join in praying each day as well.
  • Share: Another essential part of our commitment is to be in relationship and share ourselves and our stories with one another. And not simply in relationship with the Jesus followers who look or worship or pray or read Scripture most similar to the way I do. Sharing our lives across traditions and divisions can be unsettling and uncomfortable (which are spaces God often uses to make us more Jesus-shaped), but it can also lead to joyous discoveries of the riches of Christ's body we might not have seen or experienced before. 
  • Work:  Our last foundational practice is to do something on a regular basis that promotes greater missional unity in Christ's Church. I sometimes use the image of that container ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal back in 2021 to describe the current state of divisiveness and distrust between Christians. If you remember that story, you might recall that the first attempt to free the ship was with a backhoe. I think our "work" is a lot like that guy with the digger. It's not spectacular and it may not look like it's accomplishing much, but it's taking a shot at getting things unstuck. And let's not get discouraged by our seemingly small actions; I believe God has lots of backhoes at work right now and that He can multiply our faithful actions in powerful ways! 
     All of these commitments to action work in partnership with one another. This is what it means to be a part of The Initiative, whether you're a covenant member or just someone who resonates with this intentional initiative and wants to partner in some way. And I understand my own role within The Initiative in terms of providing encouragement, accountability and resources to help each of us walk, pray, share and work as God is leading us.
     Here's the promotional blurb for an amazing online event that The Initiative has the privilege of being a co-sponsor for: 
     "Do you want to be renewed in your commitment to Christian unity? Are you looking for new strategies to build Christian unity in your local community? Join us online for this inspirational and educational gathering. At this unique two-hour meeting you will hear powerful stories of individuals whose lives have been changed by the call to Christian unity and you will learn models for building Christian unity from a variety of leaders at the grassroots."
     I've gotten a sneak peak of who's going to be sharing and what they're going to talking about. It's like an All-Star Game lineup of folks who are being innovative, creative and inspiring at the ground level of growing deeper love and unity amongst the people of God for the sake of His mission. This will be a great practical resource to help you walk, pray, share and work. If you click on the picture above, it will take you to the Zoom registration page. Where you can sign up for free!
On the road again...

    My apologies for potentially adding a Willie Nelson ear worm to your day, but I wanted to use a little bit of this space to ask for your prayers as I begin a stretch of Initiative-related travel (after not traveling much since the beginning of the pandemic). Please be praying for my health and stamina, for making new (and old) connections that will help The Initiative continue to develop, and for my remaining anchored in Jesus' love in the midst of all of the activity and conversations.
  • September 24 - I'll be preaching and sharing about The Initiative at Trinity Lutheran Church, New Haven CT.
  • October 15-22 - I'll be in Chicago for a whole week of meals, gatherings and programs throughout the city. If you're in the Chicago area, I hope to see you in one of those contexts! (I'll post more details in the October update)
  • October 30 - I'll be preaching and sharing about The Initiative at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Rye NY
  • November 8-9 - The Initiative Leadership Council will be meeting together in Hyde Park, NY for an important time of discernment and decision-making.
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    One last thing: Put the dates on your calendar now! We're gathering again next summer!
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     Thank you so much for taking the time to read this update. Thank you for any ways that you are praying for me and for The Initiative. Thank you to those of you who support our work financially for your joyful generosity. As you take your own intentional initiatives, may your connection here strengthen each of you to walk, pray, share and work - so that the love of Christ would be greater than all division.

Yours in Christ's Love,
       Scott Brill
       Executive Director


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