So as the summer holidays recede into the rear view mirror it is helpful to reflect on some of the things that happened before ploughing ever onward into the busyness of autumn. One of the highlights was a short camp we went to in Latvia.
Hosted by our friend Matt Medd, it was a gathering of church planters from across Scandinavia and the Baltic nations and their friends and families each one connected to the Relational Mission family of churches, which is part of Newfrontiers. There were about a hundred people all told at the beautiful campsite you can see in the picture.
The camp really captured well the name of the team we work with, Relational Mission. Volleyball, food, canoeing, sauna, zipline, swimming, hanging out as friends and families. Everywhere you looked, you could see the value of relationships. This wasn’t a business conference, it wasn’t just for church leaders trying to improve their platform or productivity; it was families and friends together.
Yet, it wasn’t friendship that brought everyone together, it was mission. Over the past six years or more, a slow and steady stream of pioneering families have moved to the north of Europe and begun opening their homes and connecting with people. Now we have the Jones family in Helsinki, the Reillys in Gdansk, Matt and his friend Normunds building in Riga, the Heaths in Tallinn, us in Stockholm and joining with existing churches such as The Father’s House in Smiltene, Latvia as well as others looking in, connecting and becoming friends.
There are new outposts of mission ringing the Baltic Sea, a new generation of missionaries to the godless, secular north. It was a friendly, low-key, out of sight and un-hyped gathering – just right for families and friends. It was also a beginning, a next step in working out what mission and friendship fuelled by a desire that many others will become followers of Jesus as a result of these families.
If you would like to know more about this journey we’re on, I’d really recommend you consider going to The New a weekend conference in Helsinki next month, exploring what it means to be on mission.