PMC is American in origin and uses a lot of jargon. As with all jargon if you understand its meaning then it’s a useful summary/shorthand. Otherwise it’s just confusing and distracting. The six Spiritual Practices are simply “Good Habits” to be developed and used as part of PMC and to support the Missional Challenge.
God is not an absent God; He is not a distant God; He is not a passive God. He is actively working now in the world, in England, in Wokingham, in Woosehill. He is actively working here, right now, in our church. There’s a thought! These “Spiritual Practices” or “Good Habits” are intended to raise everyone’s awareness of what God is doing in the world and what He wishes us to do. They are intended to help and guide us in reaching out to our local community and to be sources for ideas for that outreach. All require practice to enable us to become proficient (and develop them into a habit). Consistent prayer is essential to confirm that we are going in the right direction.
In summary, the six Spiritual Practices are:
1: Dwelling in the Word
Actively listening to God through reading the living text of the Bible; learning to accurately report what “spoke” to us, to shape imaginations, intentions and actions. We’ve been practicing by reading the Luke 10 v 1-12 passage, discovering more messages and meaning every time we read the passage.
2: Dwelling in the World
Actively taking notice of the people we meet and what sort of interaction we have with them. We then ask God whether He is sending any of them to us and if He wants us to develop our relationship with any of these people.
3: Announcing the Kingdom
Actively noticing where God is being active in the world, and relating to each other what we notice so that they can recognise God at work too. It’s about discerning where God is directing us to join him in carrying out his work in the world and in our local community.
4: Spiritual Discernment
Through “Dwelling in the World” and “Announcing the Kingdom”, we will have (hopefully) noticed a large number of possibilities for outreach in our community. Then we need to determine, through spiritual discernment, which of these possibilities God wants us to pursue further. Discernment has to be based in prayer. We also need to take into consideration what we know from scripture. And we need to consider what gifts, interests, passions and concerns we, as a church, have. Finally we need ask ourselves what are the interests, passions and concerns of our local community.
This is about, not only giving a gracious welcome, but also of being comfortable with receiving a gracious welcome. It is not just about “tea & cake”, but also interacting with and actively listening to the needs of others and making them feel comfortable, both as a giver and a receiver of hospitality.
6. Focus for Missional Action
There are so many possibilities and needs in our community and we can’t meet them all. To try to do so would cause us to exhaust ourselves physically and spiritually. Or we would feel so overwhelmed that we would risk failure to do anything. So we need to focus our efforts and energy, based on the habit of “Spiritual Discernment”
Heavenly Father, please reveal yourself to us as we dwell in your Word. Give us eyes to see where you are at work in our community so that we can talk to each other about what we think that you are doing and what we feel you are asking of us. Give us wisdom to discern how our ideas line up with Scripture, how they fit with our gifts as a church and how they meet the needs of our neighbourhood. Show us how and where we can practice hospitality, a listening ear and an ability to put others at ease. Please direct where we focus our effort and energy. In all we do, Lord, keep our eyes on you, our aim to please you, and our motive to glorify you.