Here comes the Dawnings initiative! Dawnings is an opportunity for your church to continue its missional journey with strategic and intentional planning, ministries, and missions. Dawnings is a biblical and contextual approach for your congregation to develop a clearer congregational vision, to be formed deeper spiritually, to engage in broader mission opportunities. Dawnings will help your congregation share a common rhythm of spiritual life and engage in mission that is informed through prayer and spiritual discernment. Dawnings will lead your church through “seasons” of prayer, preparation and discovery which will result in growing disciples and ministering to your world. The following tips will help you get ready to join other churches across our fellowship in welcoming a new day into your church’s missional journey.
1- Commitment of Leadership
The first step in moving into Dawnings is to commit as a church to participate. Pastoral commitment is critical to this. The pastor will certainly be a key leader in the process of prayer, preparation and discovery. The pastors (and other ministry staff) will be essential in moving down the pathway of the Dawnings journey.
Just as critical will be the enlisting of a Dawnings leadership team to work with pastor and staff. This committed group of church leaders will share insights and energy to begin focusing on imaginative ministries and mission. These are not necessarily the elected leaders of the church. These are a team of intergenerational leaders who have a real desire to develop creative approaches to doing church in today’s setting.
2- Local Context Driven
Dawnings is not a program or a plan that you purchase and then implement in your congregation. Dawnings is a journey, a process, that is driven by the prayers and dreams of the congregation in your specific local context. There are many opportunities for ministry and mission in your own backyard. There are also partnerships that might be formed in your community to help you have deeper and more meaningful ministry.
Think about the needs of your community. Think about how God is calling you to move outside the walls of your church. Think about who God has in your community already doing some of the work and needing your church to walk alongside them. Identify the spiritual tools that need to be in place for the congregation to serve with confidence. Initiate training events, deepen the spiritual confidence of the congregation and engage in mission and ministry.
Each congregation will also have a “congregational coach” who will help you identify ministry needs in your community. The coach will bring a new set of “eyes” and prayers that will not be locked in to traditions and ministries that may be obstacles to intentional ministries.
3- Dare to Dream
Most churches today are looking for more ways to be creative and engaging. Most of these same churches are afraid to dream because of the changes that may be required. Dawnings challenges your congregation to begin praying the prayer, “Lord, what would you have us to do and to be?” OR pray, “Lord, what you have us to be and to do?” While that seems like the same prayer, the order in which you pray is important.
Many churches need to dare to dream what they need to be. Many churches need to dare to dream what they need to do. Yet, as each prayer is answered, there is more to be discerned. As we DO more in our congregations, we are formed deeper in the spirit of Jesus. As we BE-come more as Jesus followers, there is always more to do. Dare to dream, dare to pray!
4- Prepare to See God at Work
Dawnings is going to grow disciples and deepen relationships in your congregation. Dawnings is going to help you impact your community with the love of Christ. Dawnings is going to draw some people to your church; Dawnings is going to reach people who may never come to your church. And in every setting, you will be participating in the mission of God within your church walls, across the street, down the road and around the world. The missional imagination that you put to work will bear witness to the love and grace of Jesus in ways that you have yet to imagine.
Dawnings is not a program. Dawnings is a process of prayer, discovery and discernment. Throughout each step of this journey, you’ll begin to see lives informed and transformed. With each new action and ministry, prayer must be the energy that undergirds your visioning, forming and engaging. Dawnings is designed to become an ongoing rhythm of life in your congregation. This ongoing rhythm is dependent upon the congregation praying and praying with intentionality and daily focus. As you pray together, you grow closer. As you pray together, you clarify your vision. As you pray together, you are formed deeper spiritually. As you pray together, you broaden your engagement to people who need you. Praying together keeps you from falling into the same old routines and keeps you fresh both in fellowship and ministry.
Dawnings will be unveiled at the Leadership Institute of the General Assembly and will be shared all during the Assembly gatherings. Join us; begin praying the prayer, “Lord, what you have us to Be and to Do.” The dawn is breaking on a new day in your church’s missional journey!
by Bo Prosser