People and barbecues (Laurence Keith)

Barbecued meatLaurence Keith suggests we attend fewer conferences and more barbecues.

I've been noticing the way language and attitudes have been changing over the last few years with regards to mission. A good deal of it seems positive, with the movement away from bullet point evangelism tactics towards journeying with people. The distinction between de-churched and non-churched backgrounds has been helpful, but I wonder whether the next step is to move past de-churched and non-churched language and begin thinking of people, simply, as human.

Your exposure to 'church' doesn't necessarily have much bearing on your openness to God, or even your ability to live out Christian/spiritual concepts. Even if it does, discipleship for each person will be different and any real engagement with an individual will require a friendship to be formed, not a shove along the Engel Scale (which, of course, is hopelessly out of date). Any one of us is able to commune meaningfully with the living and eternal Creator, from the shallowest atheist to the deepest, most profound thinking holy man. Any of us can have a life changing, long term impact on another, if only we give them the time, energy, love and respect they deserve.

This may seem a na├»ve concept, but I truly believe in it. And I believe that there is strong resistance against it. Treating people with the respect and attention they deserve takes time, mutual sharing and energy. But we like our networks, our conferences, our ideas. And sometimes we like our private/work life divide, and the silence of our own homes. 

Attend fewer conferences and more local barbecues

So who is wise?  So who is your example?

Loving people is often called for, but to do it requires us all to have fewer, more meaningful relationships. Attend fewer conferences and more local barbecues; have less acquaintances and more authentic friends. Allow ourselves to be changed by those we're supposed to be discipling.

Letters home

Letters Home

Letters Home is a new research bulletin produced by The Sheffield Centre and Fresh Expressions. It is a collection of pieces written by pioneers called to follow Christ beyond the existing Church. The first issue looks at the tensions experienced by pioneers as they go, including some discussion of sodal and modal forms of church.

To read the bulletin in full, please download it below.


In recent years we’ve seen various changes rocking the Church. The release of pioneer ministry and the development of fresh expression of Church have created an atmosphere of change and with that, excitement and struggle. For those called to follow Christ beyond the existing Church, to go and be the Church in new ways and…

Learning from Francis

By Hannah Smith. The monastics were the prime movers in mission for the church for its first 1500 years. From China to Asia to Europe, in the roots of the gospel in each geographical space, you find the marks of the monastics again and again. Their tight-knit, hardcore bands would incarnate themselves into a society…

Pioneer as Guest: the return of the Friar

By Simon Sutcliffe. Pioneer is a term which is being used very widely in the Church at present. In talking to various gifted pioneers I have come to see three kinds of pioneering ministries in the Church. Firstly, parish renewal is led by those who feel called to work within inherited modes of church. Secondly…

The parable of the Roving Rock

By Laurence Keith. This story is about a faithful Christian, Fidelis, and a difficult transition in his journey of faith as he takes the risk of stepping out into the ‘post’; into the unknown. There was once a man called Fidelis who built his house on the Rock, by the edge of the sea. Over…

Experiences of pioneers

By Beth Keith. During the last 4 years I have been listening to and collating the stories of pioneers. Whilst pioneering is often referred to as starting something new I have been struck by how common it is for pioneers to experience an initial period of dismantling before new growth occurs. This was evident in…

Remembering the song

By Karlie Allaway. Whilst I have loved reading and thinking about mission I found I got lost at times… Lost in concepts and descriptions of mission. Lost in thinking and reading about all the ways to pray and open ourselves to the grace that transforms us into a sent people, able to bring healing and…

To read these articles in full and comment on them, please download the bulletin below.