September Newsletter: Being a Christ-following pilgrim

"Shout to the north and the south, sing to the east and the west. Jesus is Saviour of all, Lord of heaven and earth"! I found myself singing this through September as I travelled to to meet people involved in God's mission in Stellenbosch, Edenvale, Centurion, Pretoria, Louis Trichardt, Polokwane, Pietermaritzburg, Benoni, Krugersdorp, Rustenburg and Vanderbijlpark! In the midst of all the challenges and struggles God's people are finding innovative and life-giving ways to love and serve Jesus. I came away from all these encounters blessing God for his goodness and grace.   
I obesrved people easger to learn about God';s mission and the new thing that God is doing. I saw people wanting to make a difference and who follow where God is leading.

In Rustenburg I saw 100 ministers and Pastors gathered in prayer for their city.  I saw a Lutheran Church in Vanderbijlpark start and now effectively run a School for learning and autistic children and then form a Fresh Expression of Church for these children and their parents!  I saw leaders earnestly seeking God's way into a new season of mission and evangelism in South Africa in both Polokwane and Pietemaritzburg. I saw new Christian being formed during an Alpha Course in a Fresh Expression of Church in Johannesburg. I saw a traditional Church seeking to grow in mission that is built on a strong pastoral base. I was part of the OC Africa team fellowship day when we gave God thanks for the year past and plan for the year ahead. It was great to fellowship with missionaries visiting from Zimbabwe and hear their stories. I met great Christian leaders from a variety of denominations whoa re seeking to guide their people into being a missional Churches. God is at work in so many ways.  

 

June Newsletter: Fresh Expressions: multiplication, not division

Jesus faced the huge task of feeding over 5000 people. He saw this as a Kingdom moment, and so called the 12 to action, took what was offered to him and multiplied it! This is where the miracle takes place! When the few simply participate in God’s miraculous multiplication we see God’s glory and the needs met. During a weekend at Heronbridge, 65 of us spent the weekend together learning from Jesus about missional leadership within Fresh Expressions. Our unity and multiplication strategy in mission, by crossing all barriers was very encouraging!

 You can also be a part of this multiplication! Fresh Expressions is a part of the Missio Dei, the mission of God and is defined as “a form of church in our changing culture for the expressed purpose of reaching those who are not yet members of a church”. It needs to be clear that any Fresh Expression of church affirms the oneness Jesus prayed for.  Like the family of Mpho and Adam (on the left) who are adding to their family’s love by having a child soon that is unique and interdependent, so congregations adds to their love by creating and enabling fresh expressions that are also unique and interdependent! It is called the ‘mixed economy of churches’ where it is a both/and approach: both the existing and the innovation of ministry. Rev Dr. Paul Siaki spoke on this recently, so see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X86yVWwZcGI

An FE also affirms the catholic spirit: Pioneer ministry is founded on a longing for all people to know the one God in the fullness of the ministry of reconciliation. A Fresh Expression may be perceived to address a specific aspect of the community’s needs, but it will always see itself as a part of God’s bigger picture and plan for a reconciling and inclusive movement. For more on this see: http://fresh-bread.co.za.mytempurl.zadns.co.za/multiplication-not-division

Churches participating in the innovation:

We ran a number of workshops in June throughout Gauteng on the new Church Management System. We now have about 20 congregations across the country engaging with us in this project thus far. Michael Kunz and Nelly from Growing the Church joined me by giving presentations and answering questions on the CMS and we believe that we will have a system that serves the southern African context very well at a very affordable price. To know more watch this YouTube clip by Rev Luke Pretorius from Polokwane, who is already using the system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_p8IG0jqLE

Contact me for more information on how we can help you serve Jesus and God’s church better.

Coming up · · ·

         Disciple-making towards Healthy Churches Consultation:

OCAfrica is offering a 3 day workshop on how to disciple our nation through the vibrant presence of a disciple-making, transforming and Christ-centred church within easy reach of every person. Dates: 27-29 Oct. Register: www.cpa-sa.org

     FE Vision Day in Nelspruit:  

There will be an intechurch Fresh Expressions Vision event in Nelspruit on FRIDAY, 31st July at the NG Moedergemeente from 09h00 till 12h00. We look at how Fresh Expressions can participate and strengthen the mission of Jesus in the greater Nelspruit area. All are invited.

     MSI in Centurion in August:

The Mission Shaped Introduction for use in local churches will be run as a model over two Saturdays, 15th and 22nd August in Centurion. Email Chris@fresh-bread.co.za  for information.

     Fresh Bread is an invited guest at the Baptist Union Assembly from in 19 to 23 July at Schogheim

     Chrysalis: Christopher will be doing talks at both Chrysalis weekends for young people in August. More next Newsletter!

"The old order changeth, yielding place to new, And God fulfils himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world."

       Lord Tennyson, "Morte D'Arthur"

May Newsletter: Proclaiming the Gospel with Innovation

Christianity is not dying, but is shifting dramatically, with the world becoming more religious and where religious convictions are growing. Innovation is required.  

In May, God gave me the opportunity to lead a missional church consultations for both Edenvale Methodist and for a weekend with the Louis Trichardt folk.

In each of these we saw God aligning God’s church around God’s mission in new and powerful ways. This is an extract from the feedback from the one: “There was an overwhelming response of gratitude for the message of encouragement and hope that you brought to us as we journey to grow the church spiritually, numerically and most important of all ‘to be a disciple making congregation’. You left us with a big challenge and much food for thought.” We looked at:

  • Using technology to proclaim the Gospel
  • Mission Shaped Ministry Introduction materials,
  • Disciples who are making disciples,
  • How to offer Gospel to those outside the church and assimilating and mentoring new members.

Taking on the resource challenge is vital for God’s mission. The Parktown North Methodist Church has been on a Stewardship journey in May and as a part of this I was asked to share on ‘A Missional Church and Stewardship’. Rev Vusi Vilakati asked that I share on what believe which is ‘vision precedes provision’ and that God is faithful to God’s promises.

On Pentecost Sunday when I was offered the opportunity to preach at Gracewell, Centurion, Rev Derek Oppenshaw affirmed the people who were part of the original Church plant in 1999 and who still a part of what God is doing there!

Leigh and I, together with Craig and Alison Webber, invited couples to share in a 7 week journey to enrich their marriages. In May/June, over a candle lit dinners they are being guided into deeper ways to express and experience love in their marriages. God’s love is amazing!  

We had our quarterly Director’s meeting where the three of us receive a full report on Fresh Bread’s activities and our financial standing. God is good to us, though there is a way to go with many opportunities at hand. We ask that you pray with us and about our development and involvement in this ministry. If you wish the full report this is available on request.

Ministry Expectations: I wrote an article that came from various coaching sessions that assist in church leaders gaining clarity on expectations of time and energy for clergy and church staff. There is a practical tool available that I have found very useful. See Articles.  

Coming up in May

Wonderful opportunities:

      The Marriage Course starts on Wednesday, 6th May, with 10 couples together.

      Edenvale Methodist have asked me to facilitate a leadership day around ‘Becoming an Authentic Church’ on Saturday, 2nd May.

      Louis Trichardt Methodist church and the Soutpansburg Circuit have asked for a weekend exposure to being a Missional Church for the weekend of 8-10 May. Back to my old stomping ground! God is amazing!

      Offering good news: Have been asked to share about what Fresh Bread offers with some (four so far for May) Methodist Circuits and congregations.

      Workshops on an affordable online Church Management System will be held in three places in Gauteng

Newsletter – April 2015

“Mission as proclamation is like a radio. The radio is silent until plugged in, switched on and tuned in. We are God’s instruments and voice when we are connected to God, switched on to the real Jesus, and tuned into Holy Spirit promptings.”

Christopher Harrison

We live with the pain of Xenophobia, exploitation of the poor and vulnerable as seen on overcrowded ferries; and people suffering devastation from earthquakes, and we ponder prayerfully what our mission needs to be.

Challenges, changes and opportunities:

We live out our mission in response to a faithful God who is in the midst of us. This month I had opportunities to preach; attended OCAfrica team events; was involved in assisting some good friends with their weddings and marriages; attended the Fresh Expressions national Exec in the Strand; participated and taught in the Mission Shaped Ministry courses; did some missional coaching; and concluded ‘The Way of Blessedness’ 10 week small group study in our home. April was a month of blessings.

Personally: Shervon graduated with a BMus (Yay!) and then went for a ten day tour of Spain with her best friend, and is now seeking work on the mega yachts!  Alyssa continues to enjoy her musical theatre studies, while Leigh and I find life a joy and a challenge, while developing a rhythm of time together (doing Park walks!) and both working from home running our own initiatives.  My Dad has had some health challenges, but is in good spirits and God is good to him. For more news and pictures see Facebook: Fresh Bread Ministries or Christopher Harrison.

March 2015

Churches and Coffee Shops:

During our discussion evening at Omniakerk, in Primprose, on 3rd March, where eight congregations met to wrestle with this, we heard that Northfield have had 10 years of experience in this so and have learned much along the way. We also heard from Rev Michael Bishop of their recent experience with their Upper Room Coffee Shop (See www.fresh-bread.co.za/videos : Upper Room coffee shop). Topics covered included: Hearing God’s call and heart for people in the new paradigms; understanding the context; discerning the need for and style of coffee shop; the advantages for ministry to people and fellowship; the purpose and role this plays within the congregation’s life; the target audience and clientele; economic viability; staffing and/or volunteers; etc. (For the full report see : www.fresh.bread.co.za/Articles Coffee Shops and Church) God is certainly with us as we think and pray about new ways of being and doing church.

 Woord en Lewe

 

 Common Ground

 

We saw this as over 70 people gathering from various geographic areas (pictured here in Polokwane and Bedfordview), backgrounds, ages, genders and denominations, all seeking God and how to be a part of God’s mission. 

We realize that we need new ways of building relationships with people, especially young people and those who will not easily enter the doors of the existing churches as they see them. 

We started to see what God is already doing and what God is already blessing in this generation. See more at  www.missionshapedministry.org . These are exciting and meaningful days!

 Polokwane

 

 

February 2015

POCKETS OF NEWS:

Website: The Fresh Bread Website will be launched soon and are in the final stages of setting things in place.

Facebook: If you wish to connect with me find me at Christopher Harrison (Fresh Bread).  

Twitter: If you wish to link to me: @chrisfreshbread.

Marriage Course: The team plan to run the Marriage Course in the first week in May for 7 weeks. Anyone keen for this? Email me.

Coaching congregations: Many of the congregations I am working with are struggling to focus as well as make ends meet financially. Pray for us as we journey together to assist in their mission, purpose and strategy.

Development of Fresh Bread Ministries as an NPO: The directors meet this week to plan the way forward. The auditors, Nolands, will let us know when Fresh Bread Ministries is registered. God is good.

    

 Missional church conference

Jerry Pillay on the Place of the Missional Movement in the Ecumenical church

 Denominations as such are here to stay, Jerry said, but each one in its own way will morph into becoming more missional in the future. He spoke about how to shape missional congregations around these questions:

  1. What is the mission context?
  2. What is God already doing in this context?
  3. What is God calling us to do in this context to reflect God’s glory?
  4. How can we do what God wants us to do in this context?

 He concluded by saying that we need a missional imagination in our way of doing church, our ecclesiology. Where there exists a tension between the attractional and incarnational models of church the key to keeping the tension constructive is to see that they are BOTH about making disciples of Jesus.

Fresh Expressions & church planting

  “Your future is at your edge. Your edge is your new centre”, said Graham Cray in his talk at the Missional Church Conference hosted by Communitas at Stellenbosch University. Like a baby who becomes the centre of our life - and costs a lot - they are both our future and our present! Church planters, he said need to be brought into the centre of our thinking, planning, and our work now. Why is birthing new churches and church planting important? The pie-chart below, representing the UK’s stats, show that 60 are de-churched and unchurched who also need God’s love and community. FE affirms and works with existing churches as they transform to be missional, but especially, in the ‘mixed economy’ of churches, FE seeks to initiate new ways to offer the Gospel to these people who matter God and so also to us!

the Fresh Expressions National Executive invites the international conference to south africa

We had our planning meeting and made some very important decisions. It has been agreed that the Fresh Expressions International Conference will be hosted in South Africa, and in Cape Town specifically. We have begun the process and are blessed by this affirmation of what God is doing amongst us.

We were blessed to see the number of MSM courses increasing. Now the challenge is to coach the participants as church planters and fresh expression practitioners.

Congregations are becoming more interested in being Mission Shaped

God is moving and opening doors for God’s mission. God is faithful to the promises that are in Scripture. Jesus promised to be with us as we make disciples of all nations. I have experienced God being with me as I had been given the privilege of speaking on Missional Churches and the Mission Shaped Ministry Course at a few strategic events.

In my devotions this week I saw how Gideon (Judges 6) filtered out only 300 soldiers to fight a battle against thousands, so that God would get the glory! God continues to use ordinary people who are willing to let God be glorified in their lives. I see in this how humble people are being raised up as mighty warriors. We have an awesome God.

The Moreleta Methodist Circuit expressed an interest in looking at Fresh expressions and mission so invited me at their Convocation this month. We engaged in talking about the mission of God, what a church in mission looks like and how to start a fresh expression. Then the Methodist Bishop of the Highveld and Swaziland District, Jonathan Anderson, also allowed me speak on their annual District Retreat in order to promote the Mission Shaped Ministry Course to their 90 ministers. I also have been given permission to speak at the Limpopo Methodist Minister’s Retreat coming up soon as well. I am blessed out of my socks with these privileges.

Another opportunity has come form the Shepherd center of the University of the Free State who are hosting the launch of the Mission Shaped Ministry course in Bloemfontein this month. I get the joy of being there and to be a part of this new adventure for them.

“Mission has its origin in the heart of God. God is a fountain of sending love. This is the deepest source of mission. It is impossible to penetrate deeper still: there is mission because God loves people.” David Bosch

While in Bloem some Methodist leaders have asked me to engage in a Q&A on what a mission shaped congregation is. It would be amazing to see more congregations ask missional questions.  It is awesome to see what God can do when we hold to his values.

January 2015

POCKETS OF NEWS:

The Harrison’s are on the OCAfrica website! If you wish to ‘check us out’ go to: www.ocafrica.net  and under Team find Strategic Ministry Partners: Harrison Family!

Facebook: If you wish to connect with me find me at Christopher Harrison (Fresh Bread).  

Marriage Course: In seeking to offer enrichment to marriage for those who are not connected to a church, a team of us will run the Marriage Course. Anyone keen for this? Email me.

Coaching people: God has opened the door for me to journey with some pastors and missional leaders. If you know of folk who need this they can contact me.

Coaching congregations: Pray for me as I am currently are working with four teams in various congregations to assist in their mission, purpose and strategy.

Fresh Expressions

THREE MSM courses set to go! We are seeing an amazing, uniting and empowering movement happening in the churches in South Africa. As a part of this the FE northern regional team we are thrilled to have courses running in Johannesburg  at Bedfordview Methodist; jana@constantiakruin.co.za ), Pretoria (Moreletta Park Gemeente, Jana) both starting on the 7th March, and now in Polokwane staring 4th March (Noord Gemeente; chris.celebratelife@gmail.com).

We are also supporting the Free State in their first course to be run in Bloemfontein (Hugenood Congregation; jeanvanbiljon@hotmail.com)!

This is doubling our capacity to serve the church and increasing our geographical contexts.

If you would or know of any ministry team who would benefit from being shaped around God’s mission please contact me.

Missional church conference

This week at Stellenbosch University  

This week a host of amazing international speakers will gather in Stellenbosch to address the Missional Church Conference hosted by Communitas, the ecumenical body that launched Fresh Expressions in Africa. We will look at the Missional Church movement in the UK, USA and in South Africa, its dangers and possibilities and its future. I am glad to be at and a part of this movement of God. 

For your information: MSM course topics include:

Mission Context and the mixed economy

Worship and the sacraments

The Mission of God

Handling opposition, setback & failure

Vision and Call

Ongoing learning and support (Coaching)

Missional values

Prayer for mission

Starting Something new

Healthy relationships: quality community

Listening for mission

Strategic finance for mission

What is church?

Evangelism strategies

Gospel & culture

Engaging with your community

Team roles & behaviour

Children and all-age (Messy Church)

Leadership matters

Fresh expressions and youth

Discipleship

Fresh Expressions young adults

Spirituality for mission

Small group church