I admit a little hesitation at embracing new things which I fear are trendy. It's not that I am all that traditional. I just like to be more intentional about moves I make. When I learned that CBF's re-branding was to announce that Forming Together is our new catchphrase, I hesitated.
I imagine it was the same hesitation my church members expressed years ago when I suggested that instead of the unending ups and downs of competing with neighboring churches for the ephemeral title of The Place to Be, particularly among the teenagers in town, I proposed we identify ourselves as The Place to Become. Complete with an emphasis on discipleship, identifying the gifting of every person and intentional spiritual growth, it was a winning re-brand as far as I was concerned. Still, there were skeptics.
A month into CBF's re-brand - which reminds me that I still need to order new business cards - I am coming around. I am still a little skeptical that a group so fiercely independent as moderate Baptists can forgo doing their own thing in order to function togetherly - and I only have to look as far as the explosion of interest in every caucus creating how-to materials for short-term missions to see that Together is indeed an aspiration. Much of how we describe life within the Reign of God is aspirational, I suppose.
As I was going through old emails in search of something else, I stumbled across an update from Tosa, a Roma brother in Serbia. The story of how we came to know Tosa appeared on this blog previously. As I re-read an email from Tosa this morning, the image of Forming Together became a little clearer for me.
In his email, Tosa writes, "This news is just to say thanks again for helping me ... (so) I can go in mission." News of the new contacts he has made, the impact on the local churches, and how earnestly they are sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is tied to a gift we gave Tosa with which he was able to purchase a used automobile. Together, individuals and churches related to CBF funded the project we used to provide the gift to Tosa. Together, with friends from Croatia, we were able to establish a relationship with Tosa to pray for and support the ministry.
The Reign of God is realized in the togetherness of relationship. Relating and thereby helping each other lean into our own giftedness so that we are able to experience and expand the Reign of God is not a bad thing to be involved in. To be able to connect disparate actors - givers, prayers, receivers, missioners, proclaimers, and the Redeemer - helps me to see Forming Together a little differently and, just maybe, there's something to it after all.