The Initiative P.O. Box 88216 Carol Stream, Illinois 60188 johna1949@gmail.com Copyright 2017 The Initiative
The Initiative P.O. Box 88216 Carol Stream, Illinois 60188 johna1949@gmail.com Copyright 2017 The Initiative

 

Questions and Answers

John H. Armstrong

 

Will ACT3 Network come to an end?

 

Sometime this spring we will finish the legal process of an official name change. ACT3 will become The Initiative. It is much easier to keep our state ID and federal non-profit status, and change our name, than to start an entirely new entity. All checks and gifts can still legally come to ACT3. Even after we change the name we can still receive gifts to ACT3 for several years. We will tell you when the name change is permanent and legal.

 

What is the future for John Armstrong personally?

 

I will remain president of ACT3 (thus on full salary) until June 30, 2019. My work between now and then is to help in this transformation by building up the spiritual and numerical growth of The Initiative. After June 30, 2019, I will receive no more salary. I will also have no decision-making authority on the board/council of The Initiative. I will not even attend a board meeting of The Initiative unless I am invited for a specific reason by the board. It has been made clear, by both me and the board, that I will work and serve within this community but I will not be paid as a leader/president.

 

My plan is to foster the vision of The Initiative, to minister to this growing new community, to build up others through my teaching, to write articles and books, and (most of all) to do what I enjoy most – meeting with old and new friends to draw them into this Holy Spirit-given work of missional-ecumenism. I see the last years of my life as the most exciting years of ministry I’ve ever enjoyed. If God grants me both health and opportunity, I will serve as long as I possibly can and in as many ways as I can.

 

Who should consider coming to the inaugural meeting of The Initiative in Wisconsin, June 24-28?

 

Anyone who has read our covenant, and way of life, and prayerfully desires to consider adopting these simple truths as an expression of their commitment to God and each other. (You can read these at www.theinitiative.org) We believe that most who will come to Wisconsin are already living missional-ecumenism. When I meet with friends to talk about this it dawns on them that they are already doing this kind of ministry (often privately). The most important reason to attend is to get support from others and to enter into intentional fellowship with Christians who are practicing a John 17:21 way of life. Thus, I believe that the reason people will come is to share in our vision and to be with others who are already doing the work of unity for Christ and his kingdom. The other reason to come is to listen, learn and pray about being a part of this community at some point after June 2018. This is not expected, but we hope you will pray about this after you come to Wisconsin.

 

Do I need to commit in advance to join The Initiative before I come to Wisconsin this summer?

 

Absolutely not. Many people are coming who are not sure if they will join the community formally. They are prayerful but not sure yet. They will come to learn, share and seek God about this decision. All are welcome to apply to attend now. You can apply online at www.theinitiative.org.

 

Can I come with my spouse if he or she is not sure about whether or not they share this vision?

 

Yes! Green Lake is a gorgeous, family friendly conference center. It has fantastic facilities and food. All are welcome to join us to listen, talk and pray. Come to learn. Contribute your story by listening and sharing. No pressure will be placed on anyone to join or to talk publicly.

 

How many people will come to the inaugural meeting?

 

We seriously have no idea. We have planned for at least 40-50. We could go over this number. We need to know who is planning to come as soon as possible. You can apply now without investing money yet.

 

Please check out www.theinitiative.org and watch the video invitations. Pray about coming now. Write me if you have questions. We can talk by phone if we set up a time.

 

When does the gathering begin on June 24? When will it end on June 28?

 

We will gather at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, June 24, with an opening “get acquainted” reception. We will conclude after breakfast on Thursday, June 28. This means we will have three full days for meetings and four nights at Green Lake.

 

What are the costs?

 

There is a non-refundable registration fee of $150. The remaining balance is $500. This includes four nights in beautiful accommodations and a full-meal package in a wonderful self-serve conference cafeteria. Green Lake Conference Center gets high marks for both rooms and food. It is one of the most beautiful conference centers in the the United States, certainly in the Midwest. If you register as a married couple you will only pay extra for the second meal plan since you share a room. (Singles can find a roommate to cut down the cost.) If you cannot afford to pay all of these costs we will try to help you as much as possible. This will depend on donations that are designated to help people come.

 

It is also possible for you to attend The Initiative and only purchase the meal plan if you stay off campus. We advise you to buy a meal plan because our meals are part and parcel of our meetings. Fellowship around meals and tables will prove to be some of our most important time, we believe. The final prices for the event are on the registration site.

 

As you will see in the beautiful video on our website Green Lake Conference Center is a premier place for this event. The afternoon will be open. You can play golf on two different eighteen-hole courses. You can do all kinds of water sports and enjoy a boat ride on a gorgeous lake. You can walk, enjoy talking over coffee and/or just visiting.

 

What is the daily schedule?

 

We will begin the day with breakfast. This is followed by a worship time with me teaching from three texts during these three worship times: John 13:34-35, John 15:12-17 and John 17:20-24. This will be followed by a break and then a time when various people from within the group will share stories of unity. These will include lessons in how to build relationships for unity and how to transcend the barriers that separate us from others who also love Jesus. The goal is to learn from one another and to get to know one another.

 

Lunch will be followed by an afternoon open for many opportunities. You can rest. You can read. You can walk. You can meet with old and new friends to pray and share. You can swim, sail, play golf, tennis, etc. A few optional workshops will likely be available in the afternoon.

 

Dinner will be followed by a lovely evening of worship and fellowship by the lake and a reception for us to be together in various ways.

 

The goal in all we prepare as a schedule is to create a context that is not full of long meetings and messages. We desire this to be a time that is open and free to see how the Spirit leads us as we walk together, literally and spiritually. We are asking God to make us true friends.

 

Will those present be involved in helping shape the future of The Initiative?

 

We plan and pray for this to happen.We are working on Guidelines for The Initiative.  We will give you a draft of these guidelines thus as we interact we will get input from the whole group. In future years the members will choose leaders and do the business of the community but we are not ready to do this in 2018. For the first year the board of ACT3 Network will guide The Initiative. We plan to meet again in 2019 at Green Lake. We also will encourage small group interaction in the areas where you live. This is all subject to finding out who comes and how the Spirit leads us together.

 

What is your primary goal for the four-days in Wisconsin?

 

We are praying that God will draw a diverse group of people together from many backgrounds. We hope these people will be racially, ethnically and generationally diverse. We are to intentionally to make sure that this happens even though we know we will not have the balance we hope for in the first year or two. If you share our vision you can help us by reaching out to invite friends to come.

 

We will also be denominationally diverse. I see five major streams of Christianity: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, evangelical and charismatic. (I realize this is a simple description of church history, but it helps in praying and planning.) Some of these streams overlap in various ways since one stream (charismatic, for example) has converged with others (Catholic, Protestant and evangelical) to enrich and empower them for Christ’s mission. But in the end these five streams, represent the historic movements of God’s Spirit since Pentecost. Rather than argue about the many differences between them we long to become a people who can learn from one another. We also long to celebrate our “unity in diversity.” We believe we are stronger together, not in our separateness. The Initiative is about building bridges for doing Christ’s mission more effectively. We will be sharing fellowship over meals and less structured contexts. We hope this will foster understanding, spiritual growth, encouragement and deep missional theology that is lived together.

 

Our primary goal is deep friendships with one another in a way that can make all of us stronger for the work of the Spirit in both our lives and our respective churches. We are not gathering to resolve our differences, though we can and will discuss these at times. We gather to learn how to share costly love as friends in Christ. Simply put, we are asking God to give us unity in friendship with Christ and one another.

 

How will the experience at Green Lake lead to an active covenant community as explained in the covenant and way of life designed by the leaders of The Initiative; cf. www.theinitiative.org?

 

I am not sure I can specifically answer this one yet. I have a general idea, but we are asking for God’s direct leadership in the processing what happens as we are together and after we return home. People will come to The Initiative from many parts of North America. Our plan is to form small groups in various locations. But we do not intend to add many hours of additional work to our lives. Our Way says we will work proactively for missional-ecumenism, pray daily for a radical increase of love for the whole body of Christ and share our lives with followers of Jesus from traditions other than our own. I believe many of you reading this already engage in these three action steps.

 

But how will those who eventually become new covenant members do this work together?

 

Our Way says we will promote at least one monthly engagement with others to demonstrate the love of Jesus. We carefully weighed these words. In the end, I believe almost everyone who comes to Wisconsin is already doing this as a “way of life” so we are not adding more time to your life, just more focus and support.

 

One of the best questions raised within our planning process was this one: “John, you are an extrovert who easily meets people and leads relational gatherings. How am I going to do the same?” The answer is you are not being asked to be me or do what I do. You are being asked to attempt to meet, on average, once a month with someone from another Christian tradition in order to love them, learn from them and build a meaningful friendship. As you do this God will guide you and we will be there to support and pray with you as your partners.

 

Those who join The Initiative will also do all that they can to attend our annual meeting, to financially support this work (no amounts or percentages are stated on purpose) and to invite their friends to work with us in The Initiative.

 

If you read my words carefully you can see we are not trying to change you so much as to support you in a calling we believe you already embrace. We believe this way of life is a calling and The Initiative will be there to encourage you, pray for you and help you do what you really desire to do, or in most cases are already doing.

 

We will use various methods to build our friendships; e.g. emails, private chat/prayer groups, Skype connections and modeling methods and ways to do missional-ecumenism.

 

Are you asking me to choose The Initiative over my church?

 

No, since our intent is exactly the opposite. We want to make you a stronger Christian so you can be even more effective in your work within your own Christian community. To this end pastors and priests from all our traditions will help us keep our focus and serve our churches. We will do nothing to create new divisions, including some form of hyper-spirituality that would further divide the church.

 

Who is applying to attend The Initiative in June?

 

There are ten of us, counting me, on the current board. Our board is made up of seven Protestants and three Catholics. You can see our invitation to you on the website at www.theinitiative.org. In addition to our leaders there are 20-25 more who are on a list that means they applied or told me they plan to come. Board members are also inviting friends each week. We hope to have a “first” number by March 1. If space remains we will recruit/receive more who want to come. The community of our board presently constitutes The Initiative and it is our board that invites you to join them in their future endeavor.

 

Have you targeted specific people for the inaugural meeting?

 

Yes. We have specifically expressed our desire in prayer and in planning to have as wide a range of people as possible; e.g. generationally, denominationally, geographically and ethnically. This requires difficult work in trying to draw specific people to help us begin with diversity in our group. This diversity allows us to begin by “listening” to stories that take us beyond our normal places of friendship with other Christians. Generationally and denominationally we are doing well. Geographically we have friends coming from different parts of North America and the U.K. The ethnic diversity is the hardest challenge we face. Would you pray with me specifically that God would draw “pioneering” spirits who desire to be part of a fellowship of reconciliation that stirs the collective heart of the people who come in June. If we only gather people like us we fail. We believe God desires our diversity so that we “live” our the message of deep unity in love with real people, not only in theory.

 

What will happen in June that will lead to a real covenanted fellowship going forward?

 

In the twelve months after Green Lake 2018 I will devote almost all my time and attention to helping every person who wants assistance in forming localized communities (groups as small as two or three in a region) that will live out the covenant and way of The Initiative. This help can be done by emails, phone calls, Skype, personal visits, etc. I expect that my travel, leading up to June 2019, will be focused on helping those who want to put this way of life into action as the Lord empowers them. Because each person, and each area, is unique, “no one size fits all” strategy will work. We will start where the people are and seek to listen and discern how the Spirit is leading them to live the covenant.

 

How will a person decide to join The Initiative and then covenant to be a member of the community?

 

First, no one will be pressured to join. Everyone who wants to come to our meetings and share life together is welcome.

 

Second, those who believe they are being drawn into the community of The Initiative will begin a “discernment” process and thus they will decide during the twelve months after June 2018 what they should do.

 

Third, those who are the first members of The Initiative will then approve the Guidelines (which are more specific and easily changeable procedural practices) in 2019. These members will also begin the process of choosing their leaders from within the membership of the community. I will be a member of the community but I will no longer be the president, or a board member. I plan to offer my gifts, time and strategic vision of missional-ecumenism, but never as the solo leader of a mission. I will give counsel when asked but I will not plan or program The Initiative and its meetings. My role will be that of a founder but I will not be the president or full-time paid staff. This is why we have clearly said I am not retiring, at least in the normal sense of the word. I am transitioning into a new role as a major transformation takes place over the next 16 months.

 

Does your targeting of specific people groups (i.e., ethic and racial diversity) mean that I should not attend if I am white and/or older? Simply put, if you are white and older, as I obviously am, then should you forego coming so that others may attend?

 

While we have openly admitted we desire significant diversity in The Initiative, given our desire to establish a community that transcends race, age and denominational backgrounds, the simple fact is that we must begin with those who are drawn to our vision and can attend. We need a small group of dedicated people in order to launch The Initiative. If this vision motivates your present actions and future dreams, and you want to interact with like-minded missional-ecumenists, you should join us June 24-28. We are not seeking specific quotas from any one group of people. We already have quite a bit of diversity among those who have applied. Please do not let this desire for diversity be an issue that keeps you from coming in June.

 

Will The Initiative adopt a doctrinal creed that members must sign?

 

The short answer is no. We believe our decidedly Christ-entered vision of the gospel of the kingdom, and of Christ’s missional mandate, will intentionally attract earnest followers of Jesus without adopting a creed. While we openly embrace “mere Christianity,” or generous orthodoxy, the purpose of this community is not to define the faith in creedal ways. Our desire is to practice following Jesus in love. Thus our stress will always be on costly love in human relationships with others who follow Jesus. Together we will then love our neighbors. Think of The Initiative as a “confessing faith” community that shares a bond of historical continuity with the ancient church and the confessing church movement. The confessing church (The Barmen Declaration) arose within the German church during the rise of the Nazi movement. Pope Francis refers to all such movements as “the ecumenism of blood,” by which he means martyrs who follow Christ do not die for a denomination but for Christ and his kingdom. We believe the church, and church-based institutions, should have creeds and statements of faith but our community will exist to serve and assist the church to be more faithful to her core confession of Jesus Christ as Lord.

 

How will I be able to get to know others during our days together? I will know few of those who come to this meeting, so what should I expect?

 

We will arrange our meals, small groups and larger gatherings in a way that fosters story-telling and provides large blocks of time to share and get connected with one another. This, in fact, is our primary goal at Green Lake.

 

We have a reception on Sunday evening. This will allow you to meet and talk to new people. Then Monday-Thursday (breakfast is our last meeting), we will share all our meals together in a private space where we will sit at round tables for six or eight. We have planned for long, slow, table-conversation at each meal. There will be no structure, just a great opportunity to meet new people (and friends from the past) and build relationships for the vision of The Initiative.

 

We will also have break-out groups and long (open) afternoons where you can walk, drink coffee, use the lake, play golf, etc. These afternoon sessions are “open” and will not be filled with planned activities. If you need to rest, you can do so. If you want to “hang out” with friends, you can do so. If you want to be alone, that is fine. We are providing a generous amount of time for us to draw together in oneness. We will share this time together because we have all come for the same purpose, to meet God in one another and to share in the vision that drew us to Green Lake, missional-ecumenism.

 

How do you know The Initiative will work as you plan?

 

I don’t. This is a faith venture. I did not personality plan this strategic shift from ACT3 to this community and I am not going to directly oversee its future. I will remain involved in the first year, helping bring the community to choosing its members and leaders. But I will then be a member like everyone else.

 

The Initiative began because the board of ACT3 believed the Holy Spirit came upon us in June 2016 when I announced my plans to retire as president and allow ACT3 to come to an end in 2018. The board agreed with me “retiring” as president (which does not mean I am quitting or creasing to use my gifts to the fullest), and the board agreed we would not turn ACT3 into a legacy mission that found a replacement to be my successor. What none of us saw happening was the Spirit guiding us to consider The Initiative. As we asked questions, listened to one another and the Spirit, the unanimous conclusion was that God wanted us to form a covenanted community for missional-ecumenism that would foster the DNA the members saw in my nearly thirty years of mission for unity. They confessed that they could not stop being who they were and that they believed others, also touched by this vision, would want to share in how it could be advanced with our lives together. Thus The Initiative was born in June 2016 at Green Lake Conference Center. Then in June 2017, again at Green Lake, the board determined the name, and wrote the covenant and the way of life to form this new community.

 

You have mentioned Guidelines for the community? Explain what this means?

 

The Guidelines are something like a constitution and bylaws. The covenant and way of life are written so as to not be easily changeable. The guidelines are different. They will help legally and practically guide the community, but they can be changed. We expect change and we want to welcome it. The dynamic of a community requires an openness to real change at almost every level of mission and function.

 

A subcommittee of our board is working on a draft of these Guidelines and we will present it to the group in Green Lake. We will encourage discussion and input and these Guidelines will finally be approved by the members at the June 2019 meeting. By this means we get the input of the many and the consensus of the group. We think there are many interesting and important decisions to be made in the next 16 months and you will be a part of this development if you are led to join. All are welcome to ask questions and contribute but finally those who discern a call to join The Initiative will approve these Guidelines in 2019.

 

Our desire is to send a rough draft to each person who registers for this year’s meeting before you arrive so you can read this material and be prepared to contribute. We will formally devote one block of time to this process and we will welcome questions throughout the meeting and in the year ahead.

 

Who has the leadership of The Initiative in the interim period?

 

The ACT3 board will continue to legally and spiritually lead this group until we have established it formally through the process I’ve outlined. In effect, The Initiative already exists but it is presently the ten of us who formed it in 2016 from among our board of directors.

 

I am intensely involved in many leadership roles and do not see how I can invest a lot of time into something like The Initiative. What do you say to this common concern?

 

All of us are busy. In fact, if you are not busy in the work of the kingdom then you are not likely interested in The Initiative.

 

My short answer is simple: we are not asking you to add five or ten hours a week to your busy life. We are asking you to discern what you can do based upon the way of life in our vision statement. We ask our members to invest in one relational meeting a month with a person who is not from your church, tradition or ethnic background. We want to be intentional in keeping our focus on these divine/human interactions. This could be as simple as meeting a person at a coffee shop, over lunch/dinner or in a home meeting. It could be sharing a baseball game with a friend (one of my favorites). The list is limitless. Go shopping and help one another, serve together in partnership, pray for unity and more love with others, etc. Most who are coming to Green Lake are ALREADY doing these kinds of activities for Christ and the unity of the church.

 

So why be a part of The Initiative if I am already involved in relationships that build bridges and share in Christ’s good news with others beyond my own church?

 

We hope and pray that The Initiative will help you do this Christ-mandated work better. The Initiative will give you good input, solid teaching, hands-on experience and friendship with a group of Christians from many diverse backgrounds who can walk with you into the growing fellowship of missional-ecumenism rooted in costly love. God has called us to oneness, not to solo mission. The Initiative can be a simple, practical, fulfilling way to enter into the command of Jesus in John 13:34 and the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21-24. Love will guide us and seeking practical and workable ways to do missional-ecumenism will always be our goal as a community.

 

People who are members of The Initiative will come from various parts of North America, perhaps even from other countries. How will we work together when we are scattered near and far?

 

As of this time we have people coming to our inaugural meeting of The Initiative from Boston, greater New England, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Orlando, Atlanta, California and sundry smaller places. We will come from small towns and great cities. We are Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and charismatic. We are men and women, young and old, black and white, Asian and Latin America.

 

So to gather and then scatter presents challenges. We are working on this prayerfully but one major resource will be the social media including Skype and messaging. We will do “live streaming” and embrace various ways to “share with one another” to encourage each person to be faithful to the covenant and way of life. This will not be forced on anyone but we expect each person to utilize their relationships in this community to follow the common vision.

 

Will you organize regional fellowships of The Initiative?

 

Yes, at least this is our goal. It might take a few years but one of the things I plan to personally do, after my retirement from being president of ACT3, is to travel to various places to meet with our members and their friends to teach, share and encourage the vision as it touches lives and impacts churches and leaders.

 

These regional groups might someday provide the opportunity to have larger gatherings in different regions rather than asking members to come to Wisconsin. We think this can happen quite soon in the Northeast. We hope it will also happen in Florida, Texas, California and in a few other places beyond the Chicago area, which will initially be the area with the most people because I have invested so much of my life in missional-ecumenism in this area.

 

Will you ever have communities that live together in this covenant?

 

This was one of the first questions I was asked back in 2016? Our answer is, “Yes, if the Spirit leads this and it happens in a non-coercive way.” The models of community that live together are numerous and we will expose our friends to various models and see what the Spirit decides to do as the vision grows over the years ahead.

 

How will you not be a distraction from commitment to church bodies and fellowships?

 

We will strongly encourage our members to always remain in their church and do this work as faithful members. We will never set up The Initiative as an “alternative” to the church but continue to support and encourage the life and mission of local congregational experience. We will never proselytize for a single church or denomination. Our members will be encouraged and supported in their church life, not called to give it up to be active in The Initiative. If we do not help heal and develop church life we fail in our intention and thus God’s mission for us. We are thus an operating like an order, community or movement, not as a church. This is why we will not enter into ecclesial debates are our differences; e.g. sacraments, specific doctrines, etc. We will seek to create a safe place for dialogue but never become a place for criticism of churches or their commitments so long as we can confess Christ together and follow him in our conscience.

 

I cannot afford the full cost of The Initiative but I am interested in attending. What can be done to help me?

 

We are asking those who are coming to The Initiative, and any other interested benefactors, to contribute toward a scholarship fund to help people attend who really would like to be present but cannot afford the full cost.

 

Sadly, at this moment we have no funds to help applicants. We hope to change this by 2019 and beyond. The best option is for you to apply. We will hold your spot temporarily. Do not pay the $150 deposit if you take this option. Tell us how much of the total amount you can pay. We will then try to help you if funds become available. Around May 15 we will give you a final answer about funding help.

 

Please understand that going forward we deeply desire to raise the money to help many come to this annual meeting who cannot otherwise attend. The problem in this first year is raising this money to help pay these fees.

 

How will The Initiative raise money for its operation?

 

This has to be answered by providing a framework for the coming year and beyond.

 

First, as president of ACT3 I will continue to serve full-time until June 30, 2019. Our hope is that ACT3 donors will continue to help us meet the expenses of our payroll and daily operations.

 

Second, after June 30, 2019, The Initiative will adopt its own operating budget which will be considerably smaller than the current ACT3 budget. This is because I will not be on the payroll. We might need professional secretarial assistance for financial management and helping conferencing arrangements, etc.. This would not require a great sum of money. But we will also need money for small events, travel and related items. So we will need money. Members will be asked to prayerfully give as they are able. We will also seek funding to grow the work of The Initiative through donors, churches and foundations.

 

Finally, the budget of The Initiative will be developed by the leadership team and approved by the members of The Initiative in our annual meeting.

 

How will members of The Initiative carry out The Way (see Our Covenant and Our Way at the website) that we have committed to follow?

 

We will organize/promote engagements with others to intentionally demonstrate Jesus’ love. This is why the movement/community/order will be called The Initiative.  Our goal is to be active, never passive, about our covenant and way of life. We want to pursue deeper unity together. This does not mean introverts will become extroverts. It means that all of us will work together to intentionally pursue relationships where we can share this vision with others, even with one other person that we may talk to within a friendship. How this will be done is deeply personal and each person is free to do this as they are led by the Holy Spirit.

 

Second, we will all seek to attend the annual meeting of The Initiative unless hindered by health or other commitments that preclude coming.

 

Third, we will financially support the work of missional-ecumenism, as noted in the previous question above.

 

Finally, we will invite others to work with us and attend various events planned by The Initiative.

 

What do you mean by missional-ecumenism? Why do you use this term in defining the purpose of The Initiative?

 

I coined the term many years ago to describe the vision of ACT3. It was first used, more permanently, in my book, Your Church Is To Small: Why Unity in Christ’s Mission Is Vital to the Future of the Church (2010). In this vision the goal is not the complete union of churches, as good and right as this goal may be. I personally desire to see union movements become healthy and filled with the life of the Spirit. But I understand missional-ecumenism to be a biblical goal that should precede any effort for union in every context.

 

Simply put, we must first seek unity before we can even approach union in the normal way we speak about it. The union of churches has a fairly recent history of a little more than one hundred years. We have discovered that when most Christians hear the word “ecumenism” they first think of everyone getting together in the same church. Or they conceive of efforts to reach full agreement between churches that can lead toward a union that might come over time. Again, I believe these are good things. But I think we should aim first for where the clearest evidence of the New Testament first leads us.

 

Missional-ecumenism expresses something different than union or agreement. It begins with the biblical teaching that we who follow Jesus already have unity in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Cf. John 17:21-24). We already are one! But we have broken this oneness by sin and scandalous disagreements that have broken the bonds of God-Love in relationships with one another.

 

Missional-ecumenism also means that God the Father is a sending God, a God who sends his Son into the world because he loves the whole world. He sends his Son into the world to liberate and redeem the entire cosmos. This is the goal of Christ’s kingdom, a kingdom which we pray for when we pray the Lord’s Prayer together. God has revealed his desire for the world to become one, to be at peace and living in God-Love. Our relationship with him is the basis for this divinely-given oneness. When Christians do not experience this oneness in costly love, with each other in friendship, the good news of grace is missed by the world. Jesus said the world would know God’s love when the world “sees” our love for one another (cf. John 17:21-24; 13:34-35).

 

Thus, missional-ecumenism means “God’s mission is for the whole inhabited world” (the meaning of ecumenism in Greek). When we seek his kingdom mission in relational friendship, rooted in the eternal love of God, we fulfill his new commandment to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34-35).

 

What will be the central core of the teaching be at Green Lake?

 

I will teach on the three mornings we gather for worship after breakfast. I will speak from the three primary biblical texts that will inform and guide The Initiative. These texts are John 13:33-35; John 15:12-17; and, John 17:21-24. By this means we will stress the three core markers of our life together: (1) The new commandment to love one another, (2) The gift and calling to be friends with God and each other, (3) The intentional pursuit of a clear answer to Jesus’ prayer for us to become relationally and really one.

 

How can I get more answers to questions that you have not answered?

 

Send me an email to johna1949@gmail.com. I can arrange to talk to you if a written answer is not adequate.

 

Finally, how will I receive more information about The Initiative as we draw closer to June 24-28?

 

Once you register, by paying the $150 deposit, you will be added to our list of those attending. We will then begin to email you specific information about travel, times, program changes, etc. We will also encourage you to connect with one another if you desire. The list of those attending will be made available to those who have registered. (We will not share this list with anyone else except those who will be in attendance.) The hope is that you will pray for one another and “talk” to one another as we prepare to be together in Green Lake.