What does your future hold 2013 to 2018?

— Tom Sine from Oz —

What does your future hold?Here is the picture that our friends at Murrubeema Baptist Church in Melbourne sent us after our time with them Saturday June 15th trying to answer this week’s question…. “What does your future hold 2013 to 2018?”

As you can see in the picture I apparently sent our Baptist friends into the depths of depression while Christine brought them back to life and flourishing.

For those who have survived one our workshops about following Jesus in changing times do you feel this insightful cartoon characterization has some validity?

As we started our 3 hour workshop with about 30 of our Baptist friends, we asked them to share with one another the time and resource pressures they are struggling with today. Not surprisingly most of our participants, except a couple of retired participants, are experiencing a range of daunting pressures.

Then we shared a few of the new challenges the Murrubeema Community, their church, and families, are likely to face from 2013 to 2018. Their community is a middle class suburb in Melbourne comprised of a largely professional people. That isn’t likely to change but rising housing prices in their community are going to make it difficult for young couples to afford to live in the same community where they go to church.

One of the ideas that participants discussed was possibly building some expanded rental units on property they own in order to keep more of their young couples in the community.

By 2018 the Murrubeema Community will also be more multicultural than today, with more people arriving from China and India. This congregation already has impressive play groups and craft groups that are serving their multicultural neighborhood. One new idea was to also host classes offering courses to new arrivals about how to prepare the broad range of food offered in Australian culture.

Then I took our friends on a quick tour of a few new economic challenges that could face them and their kids in the next five years to inspire them to come up with some creative new responses. Australians missed the global recession that hammered many of our lives in the US. But the Australian economy is beginning to slow in ways that could put much more pressure on middle class families in the next couple of years.

In response, one group came up with some very creative ideas to simplify their lives so they don’t need as much money to sustain themselves if the downturn is lasts a few years.

Another group came up with the excellent idea of creating small groups that meet at church for breakfast before church or for lunch after to church to help participants to do a better job of following Jesus in how they steward their time and resources in tough times.

But these groups would also be a place to imagine and create new ways to reach out to their neighbors.

The reason this is such a good idea is that all of us in all our countries are going to continue live in very volatile and uncertain times. As a consequence, we will all need more mutual care communities in order to faithfully follow Jesus, steward our lives, and reach out to our neighbors. Our Baptist friends are so spread out in Melbourne that small home group gatherings during the week aren’t possible for most of them, so getting together before or after church is a very creative solution.

Christine and I enjoyed three wonderful feasts and times of fellowship hosted by our new friends. Next week I will share a bit of Christine’s “flourishing” insights on the life of prayer that she shared with our friends.

Would you write this week and send me your answer to the question:

“What does your future hold 2013 to 2018” and what creative ways are you getting ready?