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Monday, April 27, 2009

So They Were Going to Launch When?

As many of you are aware, imagine/northampton has been up here in Northampton, MA since the middle of August, 2008. Prior to coming here, the Senior Leadership Team set the date for our official launch as Easter weekend, 2009. As we moved into the year we were still headed in that direction . . . then I jumped from the truck. It ended up throwing quite a wrench in our timing. After praying about it, talking and deliberating we thought April would work . . . wrong again, cowboy.

In February and March, we held the Strategic Prayer Huddles. During that time it became very apparent that we were not ready to launch. So after more work, we decided to launch the 3rd week in September -- even if it means doing so in one of our cars! No postponing this time, period.

The reality was that beyond my exquisitely timed injury, there were other reasons for the delay:

  • God had not given a definitive "OK for take off, yet."
  • Our financial base is modest and that's inflating it a bit.
  • We really do not have the depth of relationships we want with people here yet to have a Launch Team formed. My getting hurt set us back substantially there.
  • We are not set on the right place for worship.
  • Jim and Karin, Brad and Catherine, and Matt and Karen are not up here. Houses still need to be sold, and bought or rented, a job needs to be found for one of us.
If you have been following this blog you know that we have faced a substantial amount of adversity, and the frequency of it has been remarkable, sometimes astonishing. I mention it to point out how unprepared we were for such persistent resistance. Being in ministry as we have for 20 years did not give us "rose-colored glasses" when planning to come up here, we have known wounding attack before, but not to the degree of the sheer relentlessness we have experienced here. This place is not for the faint of heart or self-assured, believe me.

Having said that, we are in no way turning back or slinking to an easier path. We're in until we receive other orders. So, here's what we are doing to trudge forward through the rest of the spring, and through the summer until the launch:

Starting next Sunday at our house in Sunderland, we will be hosting a gathering of folks who have shown some interest in what we have been talking about through the Conversations and with them privately. Over great food and conversation we will relax together, and then fill in everyone on what we will do together before September, if they so desire to press on with us.

The plan is to have a gathering or activity together every week. The gathering will be at our house and may have a meal, but it will have a study of the Book of Acts with Jim leading including a response session. We will also have a Spiritual Formation interaction or "exercise" to help us get to know how each of us actually relates to God in real time. We want it to open all of us to one another and to what God is calling imagine/northampton toward.

Once per month we will do a fun thing together, both for families with kids or just for adults. It might be physical like hiking, having a picnic, rafting, going to a ballgame or Sumo wrestling (just seeing if you are paying attention!). Or we might do an art thing like the Paradise City Crafts Festival, or the MoCCA 2009 Festival in NYC. We might just have dinner together at a new restaurant or somebody's house.The point is to chill together and keep getting to know one another.

Then, once a month we also want to do a service project in Northampton like Habitat for Humanity or The Northampton Survival Center. Catherine is presently looking into all of that. In this simple way, we want to be serving together because imagine/northampton will be missional to the core from the git.

Our ultimate hope is that a group God is calling will coalesce by September and be ready to "incarnate" the mission as God directs.At the same time if it doesn't or is a small group we will go forward anyway.

If you feel enticed by the Holy Spirit, we could really use your prayer:

  1. God will coalesce a loving community in unity around the vision he has given.
  2. The SLT will be sustained in strength and courage, made ready to follow as God directs.
  3. The Bayne's and LaMontagne's will be able to relocate up here this summer.
  4. Protection for Brad, Catherine, Matt and Karen's job's; Jim will find a new job that fits what they need.
  5. Protection for all our children from illness, injury and harrassment.
  6. The McDermott's counseling ministry will build in Northampton.
  7. We will locate the right place for worship in the city.
  8. God will increase donors as it fits his purposes and what we need.
  9. A worship team will gather; (some are already here).
  10. We will have everything we need to do a first worship experience that will move and captivate people with the sheer beauty and glory of Jesus. Everyone will be inspired.
  11. Protection and direction for 4 folks who are on board.
I will finish with thanking everyone who has continued to support us financially and in prayer. You need to know how grateful we are to your faithful service to Christ as we have walked through a very challenging first 8 months up here. You have helped sustain this little ragtag bunch of Kingdom imaginarios. Please never forget that.

And please tell us how you are doing so we might pray for you as well. We love you all.
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