How important is it to have a shared vision and mission?
When we first moved to Connecticut, we moved into the most densely and diversely populated part of the state. And yet, there was a strong sense of loneliness upon our arrival. The disparity between the number of people we knew in Illinois and the number of people we knew in CT was immense. We were used to “running into” people wherever we went – parks, stores, restaurants, etc. You realize how anonymous you are when you don’t “run into” anyone for weeks on end. It’s infrequent, but, after 6 months, we are starting to “run into” people when we go places!
We knew early on that we’d have to make up a lot of relational ground. Technology enabled us to maintain relationships in a way that would have been impossible in the past. We are grateful for the ways this gap was bridged (and is bridged).
There was one difficult relational gap in particular – church relationships. We’ve met a number of Christians through a variety of churches, some of which are in occupational ministry. We’re grateful to have other co-workers to talk about things. With local ministry-minded people, though, there’s a broad sense of shared mission but not a personal one. We all cheer one another on in our respective callings, but we don’t experience our daily mission together.
In January, we had the opportunity to rub shoulders and talk shop with other Orchard Group Church Planters. It was our inauguration into the Orchard tribe, and it came at the ideal time. We’ve been in CT long enough to feel the sting of ministry loneliness, but not so long as to have forgotten the strength of ministry bonds. Each of the Lead Planters reminded us that we aren’t alone. Across the country (and around the world), we are experiencing similar-yet-different things.
Within just a couple days, our tanks were filled, and we were ready to continue the next leg of our journey. We look forward to this time together in the years to come, and we can see why it is an essential part of keeping these Projects healthy. We are social beings, and our souls need to be connected to those who share our vision and mission.
We are part of a church planting tribe who believes establishing local churches in difficult places is important to God. We have co-laborers around the world much like we read in the introductions and conclusions of the New Testament epistles. We also have some local ministry friends who are laboring in the same fields as us. We also have the ability to pull open a device and chat with people who share our history. As we start the year, we feel we’ve got the best of all worlds.
One thing is certain, we are not alone.