As Jesus followers we are called into the Kingdom Life. This blog will help us converse and learn what that means. It will contain thoughts on Scripture, Sermon Reflection, Leadership Training and interesting reads. -Pastor Jeff

Monday, November 5, 2018

Putting on New Skin

Missional Leadership is about “molting.” Allow me to explain. Too often our ability to effectively engage others, build relationships, and participate in God’s redemptive purposes in new communities is diminished because we are still walking around in old skin. It is the skin of our past experiences, our previous communities, our preconceived ideas. We step into a new space running every new experience through an old set of lenses. Missional Leadership requires the recognition of those limitations and the capacity to faithfully molt that old skin, and put on the new skin of the places in which the Lord plants us.

Seth Major had some old skin. Growing up in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, attending Olivet Nazarene University, and pastoring in a few different communities around Chicago, Seth, originally intending to plant a church in New Lennox, felt the tug of God to step into a new city that he’d never lived, Peoria, Illinois, and join God in his redemptive influence in and throughout that city. But he had to molt. He couldn’t arrive in a new city with an old vision. He couldn’t embrace new people, assessing them through old lenses. He had to put on new skin.

This became the passion of Seth Major. Immediately, he and his wife Tai sought to make Peoria their city. They immediately moved into the community and worked to build relationships. Tai became a teacher at a school in one of the underserved portions of the community. Seth began to spend time with indigenous leaders, soaking up every bit of information or wisdom that they would share. He committed himself to seeking the good of the city and not merely fulfilling his vision. He shared meals, ate local, walked the streets, networked, and committed to partnerships. The Kingdom vision was big enough for Seth that he hasn’t been concerned about the ways others would impact his vision. He continually lays his vision on the altar, asking for a share in God’s purposes.

Throughout this last year, that has landed him in the North Valley of Peoria, partnering with a team of missional leaders to establish a faith community that would be sensitive to the organic needs of that community. Reachway Church exists to foster transformation throughout a community by partnering with their neighbors and other organizations that seek the good of the city.

However, in the recent weeks, as Seth has continued to pull on that new skin, another door for missional leadership began to emerge. One of the key partnerships Seth has engaged is the Dream Center in Peoria. Dream Center Peoria is a remarkable organization that has for nearly two decades sought to engage the issues surrounding homelessness, poverty, and at risk children. Throughout this partnership, Seth has found a team of kindred spirits with whom he could walk with and seek the good of the city. Recently his new skin has come with a new title.

Seth has recently been named the chaplain of Dream Center Peoria, providing spiritual support to both their neighbors and the staff. But wait, how is that going to help him grow his church? That’s not the point. This isn’t about church growth, but the fulfillment of God’s redemptive vision for an entire city. His willingness to step into a community and put on its skin has led him to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the most vulnerable in the city.

Director of Dream Center Peoria, Andy King states, ““Over the last year, we watched this young, passionate and enthusiastic church planter come alongside Dream Center Peoria and serve under someone else’s vision for the City. That spoke volumes to us. For an organization that has been reaching the heart of the City for 16 years or more, we long for local pastors like Seth, who get it! Its a kingdom thing. As we were looking at raising the spiritual pastoral care level for all the people at Dream Center, Seth was the first person I thought of as his heart and passion is firstly for people to know who Jesus is in this City."

Molting has allowed Seth to gain favor in a city at a rate that rarely happens. His humility in laying aside his dreams, his passion for pursuing God’s vision, and his willingness to lock arms with anyone and everyone that has the passion to #lovepeoria, gives credible witness to missional leadership. It’s a reminder that our inability to engage those to whom God sends us is often less about them and more about still wearing old skin. Molt and be missional. Congrats Seth!