Last week, a group of CBOQ pastors (including some children, family and youth pastors) gathered at the Nottawasaga Inn and Resort for the Reignite Conference. This year featured Dwight Friesen, author of The New Parish, sharing his insights on the local church.

We engaged in three days of discussions around the purpose of the local parish and how well we interact with our neighbourhood. There were three questions/ideas that stood out to me (Alvin) for consideration.

What is exactly is our local parish?
We tend to think of our particular local church as the parish. However, Dwight’s definition of a parish isn’t as confined. We usually focus primarily (if not solely) on our particular church as a local expression of God’s kingdom. Yet our parish stretches beyond our own church to include other ones within our neighbourhood. What could this look like? Some youth ministries have looked at a neighbourhood youth ministry shared among a handful of local churches. What are the benefits and the obstacles to operating in this way?

What is our purpose of our gathering?
To paraphrase Dwight, we gather so we don’t forget who we are. How well do we do that? What would change if remembering who–and whose–we are became the primary focus on our church gatherings. How often should we gather in order to remember? Perhaps it’s not as many times as we think it should be. If we don’t gather as often, what else can we be doing with that time in our local parish?

Who’s vision are we following?
In leadership forums, leaders are encouraged to cast vision and to mobilize our particular congregation towards God’s work. Do we really listen before we do that? Sometimes, we force a vision that we believe God has given us; start on programs and services and then add God in later. (Some youth pastors unfortunately strive head-first with their vision without consideration and cause undue tension.) What we should be doing is joining the vision God has already established. The vision must be discovered together. Especially youth ministry, because as a ministry under a larger mandate it must also fulfill the vision God has given a particular parish. How would that influence our youth ministries?

For those who went to Reignite, feel free to share your insights and other thoughts in the comments below.