To even write that title feels so strange. For almost 20 years, Canterbury has been 'home': it's where I came to University, where I became a Christian. It's where I met and married my wife and my children have begun to grow up. It's where the church I got saved into, and have been an elder in for around 13 years, is based. It's the City that I genuinely 'love.' And so it is with tears that I write that despite all this, at some point in the first half of 2017, the Shaw family will be relocating to Radiant Church in the city of Visalia, California.
The last three years have been a time where God has really spoken to me. He's spoken about the need for me to raise up more leaders, to get ready to be more mobile, to increasingly give myself beyond the locality I call home. Without any sense of hype, the degree to which He has made His Will clear has been, in my opinion, striking. If you want to hear more of the 'story' of this particular time of guidance, then watch the video below:
The Short Version:
The Long Version:
At one level there is real clarity. The need for me to make room for even more leaders to step forward at City Church is clear, and the season for my leading the eldership there is to come to an end. The rightness of partnering with Travis and Tiffany Aicklen at Radiant Church is reassuring. There is clarity of focus: that I will be looking to help serve Radiant Church in becoming more of a 'sending', apostolically hard-wired church than ever before. Our vision is to see 'word and spirit' churches started and strengthened all across the great state of California and beyond, still within the wonderful family of churches I love: Newfrontiers (and in particular connection with the Relational Mission 'family within a family'). I am convinced that I must walk through this 'open door' that God has undoubtedly provided.
But at another level, there is real mystery. What exactly will it look like? How long will this season be? How will it work for me to continue to serve The City Church and the plants and churches to which we are particularly connected? Why would God send a very limited Englishman and his family to the West Coast of America when that country has so many hugely gifted and motivated leaders already?
And naturally, I find mystery uncomfortable and unsettling. It's something I try to solve. But the honest truth is, to those and other questions, we have to reply "We don't know". But as far as we can tell, He is telling us, loud and clear, to "GO!"
The parallels with various characters in the Bible spring to mind and bring a real level of comfort: Abram and Sarai's call to leave Haran, Moses' call to go to Egypt, Philip's call to leave Samaria. And actually, although pretty terrifying, it's fair to say that Josie and I do feel a faith that God has got plans that are utterly good, for all the people and churches affected. We feel faith that although we feel we only have a few 'pebbles' in our amouries, that when God calls them to be thrown, they can bring down Goliaths; that the weaknesses that we both feel have been brought to the surface through the last 3 years will force us to trust that He alson has to do whatever He asks us to do!
But the honest truth is, we both flit between faith and fear, and so we desire your prayers hugely. Above all, pray for hearts of consistent faith for us, our children, the church and plants we are leaving behind, and in the church of which we are becoming part. And that our faith may rest firmly in the truth that in Jesus, we have a mighty and faithful God. We are weak, but He is strong. If our God, who is unimaginably impressive and powerful is leading us into this next step, then we have nothing to fear. He will open up the Red Seas. He will bring the good nights' sleep. He will bring through the work Visa. He will, again and again, strengthen us all and so He alone will get the glory.