I love crowds, big crowds and small, crowds in market places, crowds in foreign countries, and crowds at home. I just love people.

I do enjoy the on-one-one stuff a lot, too, but I feel at home when preaching or teaching.

I don’t have an insatiable desire to be recognized nor do I feel that my ego is fed while communicating to large groups (although to be completely honest, it is quite invigorating).

What feeds me is just kingdom stuff.

Being able to communicate truth of the scriptures or exciting kingdom stories. Seeing hundreds of eyes set on me, hopefully listening intently, grappling with new Jesus stuff or wrestling with old stuff that is coming to life, again. That is exciting.

While I recognize preaching and teaching as being essential gifts to the church regardless of ecclesiology, I am becoming aware that something is shifting.

As the church of the West is rapidly being renovated and missionally invigorated, one can no longer assume, without meaningful and creative reflection, that transformational, missional, movements of multiplying disciples will be started or invigorated for the long term around leaders gathering large crowds for the purpose of teaching and preaching.

It is happening in restaurants and coffee shops, gyms and bars, schools and universities, it is the building of incarnational communities through the mentoring of a few.

Stephanie was another face of Starbucks. Tall and lanky with auburn hair and deep brown eyes.

It seemed as though she struggled to be friendly. I often wondered why she chose the service industry. Then I thought that maybe she was chosen for it, perhaps for a season such as this. Like with the other baristas, I would attempt to draw them into conversation for the minimal amounts of time we had.

Often it was just friendly chitchat while other times it was a friendly gesture of gratitude. I always made a point, though, of keeping my eyes open to where the Father was at work.

It was a few months after she began working at Starbucks where Stephanie and I connected.

“You’re a pastor?,” she asked while grinding a pounds of beans.

Over the noise of the grinder I replied with a “Yes.”

“Hmmmff. I never would have guessed, she replied.”

Now that can go two ways but fortunately, it worked well in our favour. She went on to tell me that she was a believer but that she didn’t attend any church in Nelson. Now, typically, my walls usually go up at this point.

Honestly, they do. After all, we are missional, not here to help fix people’s church hang-ups!

I believe it was shortly after that first “meeting” that I was reminded that I was doing God’s business and not the other way around. Stephanie and I connected several more times at Starbucks before we “formally” met for coffee at another location, a place she didn’t work.

I just sat and listened to her story. It was a story of pain and brokenness rooted in bad church experiences and painful relationships. It was only a few years into marriage with a pre-Christian and after two kids that we met. Her story was not convoluted but clear. Stephanie’s pain and discontent led her to a place outside of Christian community, to a place where decisions were made from places of brokenness.

The guilt and pain of consequence soon began to bare down, and here she was, unloading in a coffee shop to some pastor she had really just met.

The weeks have since passed but not without a “calling out.” I saw things in her that she didn’t see. I saw the Father stirring the heart of a spiritual mother, a leader, and a multiplier.

Stephanie is now one of a few emerging leaders actively participating in the Nelson Vineyard’s year long, mentorship based, Leadership Intensive. Stephanie is now being embraced by community and the heavy burdens of shame and religion are slowly being lifted.

This is only a part of Stephanie’s story but it’s also part of our story, a large story of interwoven stories; a mosaic; an anthology of sorts. The big crowds aren’t here but the harvest remains plentiful. If only we can capture again the beauty and power of the “one person at a time”…

Our prayer is that this will become viral, and it will have a contagious effect on those we are gathering here in Nelson.

Our relationship with Stephanie is one reason we are stepping out into a new season here at the NV community. We invite you to pray as we unfold another season of gathering. This will be heavily advertised in the Nelson community over the next few weeks. We are asking Daddy for more Stephanie’s, more of those who are willing and able to give it all up, jump in again, and se what can happen.

Follow the link below for more details.

Daniel Snell

~ by blueporch on August 6, 2012.

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