The Presbytery of San Diego, in conjunction with Presbyterian Global Fellowship, is looking forward with anticipation to our Moving Back into the Neighborhood consultation August 21-22 at the Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. This event seems to be ‘scratching where people are itching’ as registrations have been double what we thought they would be! The online registration system had to be shut down two weeks prior to the event because we had already reached the maximum number of participants that our facilities will allow us to have. While we are saddened not to be able to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend, Presbyterian Global Fellowship is considering offering more regional events for people to go to in place of this one, and the Presbytery of San Diego may also offer a second opportunity, if there remains enough interest in the southern California region.
With about 300 people registered for the August event, and about another 50 on the waiting list who did not sign up in time to come, we are sensing that God’s Holy Spirit is up to something here. There seems to be a growing interest among congregations to enter into conversations to learn together how to enter our neighborhoods again. Rather than another conference that trots out “experts” to tell us ordinary people what we should be doing, there is a growing excitement about being a part of a working learning community. In this environment, where we all gain insights from one another, we recognize that none of us are experts, and that God’s regular pattern is to work through ordinary people like us.
The response to this event seems to signal that people are tired of programs and “canned” answers that somebody else designed for some other church in some other context. There seems to be a growing interest in discovering again the importance of our own local community, discerning what God is doing on the actual streets where we live, and what God wants to do in our neighborhoods. Many of our congregations are caught in the struggle to cultivate a new missional imagination. Many of us seem stuck in the rut where we do what we’ve always done before because we can’t imagine God working in any other way. But, if we begin with the right questions and the right conversations, the possibilities for new, invigorated ministry in our own neighborhoods are endless. Where Jesus is present, the sky is the limit. We can learn to do this together. Moving Back into the Neighborhood is but one more step on this important journey together.
We would ask that you please pray for this event. Please pray for the relationships, the discussions, the imaginations, and the next steps that will emerge from this new style of consultation. Please pray for our presenters, Alan Roxburgh and Mark Lau Branson, as they set the stage for our learning environment together. Please pray for what God will do with this. If you wanted to attend but did not register in time, please let us know when and where you could participate in another amazing collection of Christ’s ordinary people, who gather to learn to do extraordinary things together. To God be the glory!