My son has one business that works with the defense industry. Through his work I have become familiar with a type of training called Live, Virtual and Constructive. This type of training utilizes live simulations and software much like video games use to create an environment where soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines can practice their combat skills over and over again. An infantry unit in New York can “train” with an armor unit from Ft. Knox and an artillery unit from Oklahoma, all without ever leaving their respective bases.
As taxpayers this should make us happy because it saves millions of dollars every year and provides a better, safer training experience. One of the trickiest parts of this kind of training, however, is effectively blending the Live with the Virtual and Constructive worlds. It is a challenge but, when it works, the results are amazing.
At Agora Church right now we are facing a similar challenge. We have “gone live” in Columbus Ohio with a series of spiritual discovery and discipleship groups. We have rented a small office complex at 6065 Memorial Drive in Muirfield and each Sunday morning at 1030AM have a weekly Gathering for learning, LifeSharing© and simple worship. Almost 40 households have connected locally with our discipleship huddles, small groups or our weekly Gathering in some way. As we would hope, people have found Christ and lives are being changed.
I have found, though, that as I respond to these opportunities, I have neglected our Virtual Agora Church and the ministry we want to build there. We have had almost a four week gap in our teaching blog. We are behind on some of our on-line contacts and ministry conversations. Thanks for your patience.
Rev. Reilly Smith, a certified Master Trainer with Dynamic Church Planting International, has joined our effort as a volunteer Associated Pastor. I met this week with another pastor who is retiring and asked what helping us would look like. Our lay leaders are growing in experience and impact and helping me on many fronts. The believers in our discipleship huddles are quietly sharing their growth with others and our Kingdom impact is expanding. We have the strong support of MissioChurch (Ashland, Ohio) and Smoky Row Brethren Church here in Columbus. Many friends have been extremely generous with our financial needs.
Our design for Agora Church has been to be a “live” church in Dublin, Ohio that has virtual but “real” ministry around the world. One of our Missional Leaders and a group of our Mandarin speakers are preparing to finance and launch Agora PARDES—an on-line outreach to Asia and especially those who speak Mandarin Chinese. A lot has happened in a short period of time.
Please pray for Agora Church as we strive to get this balance right. It is rewarding to see our dream of becoming a disciple-making culture begin to take shape. There is a lot of work to do in exporting it to the world. Thanks for your part in this adventure! Stay tuned.