Joining Jesus in the New Missional Age, Part One

Last month multiple parishes within ECCT started to Join Jesus in their neighborhoods and communities by adopting five spiritual practicesand re-dedicating themselves to see what God is up to in their surrounding neighborhood — to literally go outside of the walls of their parish and walk with neighborhoods. 

These practices help to shape the folks participating and the congregationtowards becoming further knit into the fabric of community. The parishes are part of ECCT’s “Joining Jesus” initiative and are following a six-module process developed by ECCT with The Missional Network. A related component of the “Joining Jesus” initiative involves raising financial resources. Three churches are taking part in both components.

The spiritual practices include:

  • Listen – We listen to God by dwelling in God’s Word, and in stories of God in our lives and in our neighborhoods 
  • Discern – As we hear from God and one another, we ponder how God might be calling us to take action in the world. 
  • Experiment – We experiment with new ways of joining in God’s mission, trusting that God uses our failures as well as our successes.
  • Reflect – We wonder about what God is up to in our lives and in the world.
  • Decide – We adopt new ways of being the Body of Christ as we listen, discern, try on, and reflect. 

I will be following along with two parishes in their journey of Joining Jesus: St. John’s, Vernon and St. Monica’s, Hartford. Both parishes have a group of about 10 folks dedicated to embracing these practices, and plan to meet monthly. St. Monica’s is also part of the raising financial resources component of the ECCT initiative, but I’m going to keep my focus on their spiritual journey for this blog.

The Rev. Tracy Johnson Russell from St. Monica’s

To start off our journey, I asked them a couple questions. Keep reading for my interview with them. 

Why did your parish decided to participate in Joining Jesus?

St. John’s, Vernon – To bring new life with discernment; to connect with a greater community beyond our parish; to try on new ways to encounter and better know our neighbors; to engage in a spiritual journey, recognize, and celebrate our gifts. Finally, it is an opportunity to live into the challenge to be not merely for others, but with them. 

St. Monica’s, Hartford– The parish has had a long history of being engaged in ministry with their neighbors.  They were seeking ways to be more intentional and more connected. We are engaged in faith-based community organizing and wanted try-on this way being as a spiritual practice.

What does your parish hope to learn from this?

St. John’s, Vernon– To learn how to listen in order to learn about others and connect — learn to be present. So we may see what, where, and how people are getting fueled and what they are doing with that energy.

St. Monica’s, Hartford– How to faithfully and authentically live out our call to love and serve Christ both inside and outside the walls of the church. How to faithfully and authentically live out our call to love and serve Christ both inside and outside the walls of the church.

The group from St. John’s

What are your hesitations?

St. John’s, Vernon– Time and absence of time depending on our family/work/personal commitment. 

St. Monica’s, Hartford– Fear that we might say or do the wrong thing.


For the next couple months, I will be checking up with St. Monica’s and St. John’s as they practice, pray, discern, and listen to God in their lives and their neighborhood. If checking in with my posts is not enough for you, they do have a website: joiningjesus.net.

I invite you to pray for and with St. Monica’s and St. John’s during this time of community introspection and action. 

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