The Great Adventure

As we continue to examine The Navigators Vision, we come to an inspirational call: Crossing cultures into new cities and nations, teams of mobile pioneers intentionally proclaim and embody the Good News of Jesus Christ, in such a way that transformed communities multiply.
This is a call for all who claim the name of Christ to be vitally engaged in a great adventure—advancing the gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the nations! How invigorating!
The key word in the sentence from our vision is new, which is what pioneering is all about. Ministry pioneers move into new places or new contexts to plant the gospel and to lay the foundations of a generational ministry.
How do they do it? First, these pioneers lay foundations for a generational advance of the gospel. That is, they work to get things started in such a way that the gospel can continue to advance after they are gone. Second, they look for foundational people. These are the people that will take the Good News into the very fabric of their world.
In one sense, most of what Navigators who serve in neighborhood ministries do can be considered pioneering. We are moving into a new way of thinking about life and ministry. We base community not on activities, events, or organizational structures, but on relating and connecting to the rhythms of our places. We are learning to intentionally embody the Good News of Jesus in a way that is part of the natural relationships within our neighborhoods and families. We should not underestimate how much of a pioneering effort this is.
At the same time, many colaboring in this great adventure are on the very edge of this newness. They include men and women who’ve purposely moved into ethnically diverse neighborhoods or communities populated by a minority ethnic group. We’re learning much from these efforts.
Recently, my Navigator colleague Don Bartel asked some of the leaders of these pioneering teams what they are learning. Here are a few lessons that I believe apply to us all:

  • Pioneering is a spiritual endeavor. It requires lots of prayer and listening to the Spirit.
  • Every lifelong laborer among the lost is in a pioneering situation. This kind of pioneering should not be done alone. We need like-hearted travelers on the journey: partners, companions, teams, community, relational networks, or family.
  • Everyone is busy, swamped, or overwhelmed with the demands of life. Laboring for a lifetime needs to be as natural, relational, authentic, and as integrated as possible.
  • Life-to-life is a Navigator core competency. This emphasis aids laborers throughout their lives.
  • Everyone benefits from someone who comes alongside to strengthen, encourage, tell stories, cast vision, make ministry tangible and practical, share relational joy, and empower them where they are.
  • Faithful presence is needed in neighborhoods, extended families, and relational networks.
The last part of this sentence on the great adventure of pioneering speaks about how it takes place: “in such a way that transformed communities multiply.” Transformation, of course, is God’s work. The way He uses us in the process will look different from place to place. Yet it must always be on the mind of the pioneering teams. They need to ask such questions as these: 
  • Does this action help bring transformation?
  • Does this action help build God-honoring community?
  • Am I laying the type of foundation that could lead to spiritual generations? 
This will lead us to thinking about whole families, including children, right from the beginning. Families already multiply, and the power of the gospel can multiply right along with them.
As we work out our Navigator Vision in neighborhoods, we are still learning, growing, and pioneering. I trust that we will move forward with boldness and humility, and that God would allow us to lay the foundations for many spiritual generations. I’m enjoying this great adventure alongside you!
For Your Consideration:
  • Pioneering should not be done alone. Who is partnering with you to reach your neighborhood? Whom might you recruit to join you and support you in your efforts?
  • How are you building or joining natural, relational networks in your community?
  • What might it look like to “get things started in such a way that the gospel can continue to advance after [you] are gone”?

Al Engler is the director of Nav Neighbors. To contact him or to learn more about his ministry, click here.

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles unpacking the Navigator vision. The series begins with Unpacking Our Vision: An Introduction.