Hub: “The central part of a wheel, rotating on or with an axle, & from which spokes radiate” Oxford dictionary
“The central part of a circular object; a center of activity esp an airport or city with heavy air traffic” Webster’s dictionary. Such language of mobility, intensity and intentionality! I love the sense of movement in those definitions.
Whenever the Father is on about something, we try to shape it through theology and the language that that gives us. Then periodically we are faced with architectural pieces for which our vocabulary is just not enough. Then we need scaffolding - temporary words to help us understand what the Father is shaping. The thing we must always remember about scaffolding, is that it is there to build something else. The moment that becomes the building, the thing we defend the most, we have lost our way. Scaffolding is there to help us then, at the appropriate time, however we are to tear it down.
When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he said: “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere…” 1 Thess 1:6 – 8 That is what we are talking about – the E4 gifts are to be imitated, but it is the “Hub” church that is to be an example… the word has sounded forth from you… your faith has gone forth everywhere”
The future of the church is around strong, solid, sacrificial, mobile “hubs” who live for the benefit of others. The E4 gifts are there to empower them on their journey, not to be the center of the wheel themselves. I do think we are far too vulnerable to a celebrity culture - where once again we want one man to be king. I am just not seeing that in the New Testament. I am seeing honor, love and gift recognition. But any effort to make one man "the stud", Paul fights will all passion. We cannot make E4 the new nobility. We only have one king and his name is Jesus. For the rest, we are simply citizens together, with love, respect, humility and honor where each person and gifting is celebrated as unique and vital.
Here are some ingredients for a healthy hub, that may be helpful as they accpet their role as an example:
· They plant churches as a conviction that that is the basis to transform cities and disciple nations,
· These church plants can be autonomous / independent or autonomous / interdependent,
· They must be prepared to love and lead ‘orphan’ churches who have been left without partnership in their journey,
· They are to accept that they also fulfill a ‘lighthouse role’ where there are churches that simply want to come under the safety of their light but not necessarily become close cadres, but remain models of faith, conduct, architecture and exploration,
· They desire to empower those who plant from them to become hubs in their own rights. The object of this labor of love in not imperialism but multiplication,
· They are hubs of training, friendship, resourceing, collaboration, faith, prayer, catalytic conversations and sometimes simple sanity.
· They are centers of receiving the raw material of new converts or beaten up old campaigners, recognizing the God gift, investing, training, equipping, creating opportunities, then releasing them to a higher call and a great kingdom story. The hub church knows they are not the biggest story – Jesus, the gospel and the nations are.
· These communities will be riddled with E4 gifts – one need only look at Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus to see the weight and bias of a church loaded with collaborative E4 gifts operating together,
· These E4 gifts go out to empower these plants, replants, orphans but return to the freedom of the Hub as Paul did in the Antioch story.
Well, there is so much more to this conversation. I simply want to get us to detox from models that overly elevate the E4 as king. There is a new way to do this gig. We cannot simply repeat the past. It has not always been a good friend or tutor...