Make Room for Your Tent

Make Room for Your Tent

A Family on Mission Story

My husband Jeff and I were eager to join the journey of our West Hills congregation as we embarked on the ReLearning Community invitation through MCEC eight years ago.  If I'm honest, there were times when I felt like Hezekiah in his writings in Isaiah 38:12, "My life has been blown away like a shepherd's tent in a wind storm."  As the congregational leadership chair at the time of transition, I was diligent to put up an actual tent each week to represent our journey as we began to move from a traditional church model to a more non-traditional rhythm that carves out more opportunity to engage our own community and neighbourhoods.  We have been blessed to witness the transition and culture change through the experience of the children who now refer to "the church" as the people/body and not a building/place.

Jeff and I recently traveled to the Northwest Territories to visit friends and family living in Yellowknife.  This was our first trip away from home since before the world changed as a result of Covid-19.  I again thought of the image of people trying to hold onto tent stakes and canvas as they attempted to navigate the storms of their personal lives and the life of the church over the past two and a half years.  The Douay-Rheims Bible translates the first part of this same verse (Isaiah 38:12) as "my generation is at an end." Perhaps some of you have felt that way yourself as you continue to plan family life and to lead the church at this time in history.

Jeff and I share a passion for living a missional lifestyle, as do many of you.  We are always eager to share our experience with others as we have found it to be life-giving.  Jeff shared our missional zeal and stories with family in the north and we discovered after arriving in Yellowknife, our extended family has also become a family on mission during the pandemic!  This is their story, meant to inspire and encourage you in your own journey.

This young family erected a simple prospector tent with a camp stove on their property. (You may begin to observe a tent theme here.)  They then began the intentional practice of engaging their community on Friday evenings from September through May, inviting others to join them for games and ordering take out dinner.  Fast forward and the Lord has blessed their step of faith; this couple is presently mentoring three young couples and they are discerning a call to lead a house church. How exciting that the Lord chooses us to join Him in what He is doing in our neighbourhoods!  We don't always get to see where the Holy Spirit is at work.

As I considered the idea of a prospector tent, I saw that this was sort of a kairos moment for me as I considered that a prospector was someone who would go out with a specific purpose to find something of value.  I feel we have discovered something of great value in living life as a family on mission.  Isaiah 54:2-3 says, "Make room for your tent.  Tell them to stretch out the curtains of your dwelling.  Do not hold back! Make your tent ropes longer. Make your tent stakes stronger, because you will spread out to the right and to the left. Your offspring will take possession of nations, and they will repopulate desolate cities." (EHV)

How then do we make room for our tents? 

  • Stretch your curtains wide: Take what (little) you may have; you already have everything you need.  The Lord will bless your faithful offering of loaves and fishes.
  • Do not hold back: Fear paralyzes us.  Step out in faith!  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you.  As we are set free from our own fears, others are released from their own fear and inhibitions. Share your stories!
  • Make your tent ropes longer: Pray for opportunities to build relationships outside the church.  Let the light of Christ shine in your life.  Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
  • Make your tent stakes stronger: Go deeper. God is calling us to be disciples that make disciples.  Are you able to offer your life as a living example of what it looks like to follow Jesus?  You disciple others out of your relationship with God.  Draw on your relationship with God for the resources you need and share with them out of the overflow of what He is doing in your own life.
  • You will spread out to the right and to the left: take ground for Jesus.
  • Your offspring will take possession of nations and they will repopulate desolate cities: you will extend the Kingdom.

May God multiply out your faithfulness!