Powerful Reflection

As church planters, we may easily get bogged down from the nitty gritty of shaping organizational structures and managing the great work of investing deeply into the individuals in our communities, but there is a key way of pausing in the midst of the work that actually aids in providing wisdom and insight into both our organizational structures and the investment in our people.  It may appear as something to dismiss or even take too much time to pause and participate in, but it would serve us well to engage in it.  And the key way is to pause for reflection. 

Reflection : an image you can see of yourself bounced off of something or someone else

As we continue to live together in the way of Jesus, reflection helps us to use the community God gave us to do the good work of seeing ourselves within our missions, that is not performance based, judgmental, or task-evaluation focused.  Instead, reflection helps us to see the good the Holy Spirit is already at work inside of us bounced off of the life of our communities. 

As we continue to live together in the way of Jesus, reflection helps us to use the community God gave us to do the good work of seeing ourselves within our missions, that is not performance based, judgmental, or task-evaluation focused. ~ Eun… Click To Tweet

At the start of every year, I pause to take time for self-reflection.  I take the time to generate some questions for myself to answer, but the same questions also go out to those who are in positions to speak into my life.  I send out the questions in a simple text format, and I either grab time for folks to respond in person or a simple text back.  And I choose people who lead me, who lead with me, and those I have the honor of leading.  Those above, those with, and those under.  This is what I wrote to them this past year: 

It’s the start of the new year, and, as I am in the habit of starting the year off with some time for self-reflection, could you please answer the following questions so that I can catch my blindspots and become more attuned to how God is prompting and transforming me to be?

  1. If I could change in one area of my life this year, which would it be and why?
  2. Where do I need to mature most in wisdom and why?
  3. What changes in me would bring the greatest glory to God and greatest flourishing to other people?  Why?
  4. In what ways have you experienced life because of me or what I have done?  In what ways have you experienced detraction because of me or what I have done?
  5. Please pray and ask God if there is anything I can focus on this year to become a better person – both in my inner being and in my outer pursuits.  Please share with me what He says. 

The experience is rich, it helps direct to what and whom I should pay attention, and hear different perspectives on how God is working in and through me. 

As I sent out my reflection questions at the start of this past year, I did something a little different.  I also extended the gift of reflection to those in leadership in my missional community.  I wanted them to experience the richness of reflection, how vulnerable contemplation in leadership actually makes our missional community that much stronger and deeper.  It pairs us with both humility and confidence, becoming more and more aware of both our weakness and reliance on the Holy Spirit, as well as celebrating the ways in which the Holy Spirit is transforming our inner persons and bearing fruit in us.  I emailed each of them a simple worksheet to work on and gave them a month to respond.  This is what I wrote to them:

As we enter into the new year, it’s always a good opportunity to begin to reflect over all the things that God has done in and through us, particularly in “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6) and as we all “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13b).  Without a pause for reflection, most of us often miss the good work and maturity the Holy Spirit is providing in us, so as we continue to be a missional community together, it’s important that we build an inner culture that emphasizes the importance of reflection.

I honestly can’t imagine doing this life and living out this mission without you … “for this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:15-19a).

And this is the simple worksheet I sent them:

Please use the following 5-point scale in your reflection (no half numbers) when appropriate.  Space is provided throughout the reflection for written comments.

5: Exceptionally Mature A consistent way of life, where if everyone in our missional community imitated this, our whole community would flourish
4: Commendable A strength in this person’s life, where there is little need for improvement
3: Competent Acceptable, reliable, capable in the doing, where there is still need for minor improvement (there is probably a head knowledge about the theme, but a need for inner heart/motivation change)      
2: Growth Needed There’s an awareness and acknowledgement of this needed growth, but is a place of weakness, stagnation, or struggle
1: Poor There’s a lack of awareness or acknowledgement that spills over into our whole community that can block flourishing
N/A: not available Unable to reflect on this due to unobserved theme
1-5 Thick Community[1]
  Relational Building: Trust vs Suspicion: when conflict/tension occurs, I choose to trust the other person instead of being suspicious of that person
  Truth Telling: Honestly vs Hiding: when conflict/tension occurs, I choose to speak honestly with grace and love to address it instead of withholding information or feelings from that person
  Peace Making: Dialogue vs Division: when conflict/tension occurs, I choose to invest in the other person and create environments of safe and freeing dialogue instead of breeding divisive and resentful thoughts and feelings about the other person

Written comments:

1-5 Discipleship
  Full Gospel: I know God’s story (I can tell someone else the 4 acts) and this story helps shape my loves and desires, thoughts about my identity and worth, and purpose in how I live and what I do
  Thick Community: I participate in God’s family, how He defines it and its unity and actively recognize and shift towards both differences in spiritual gifts and temperaments in myself and others.
  True Humanity: I am personally connected to Jesus, who shows me who God is and who I am supposed to be.  I actively participate in and am aware of the Holy Spirit’s personal sanctification and growth in me
  Heart for the One: I have a heart for those who are far from God among my family, friendships, or those in my personal sphere of influence and actively ask God for ways to participate in what He is already doing their lives
  Partnership in the Kingdom of God: I understand and participate in God’s Kingdom in 3 main ways:
1.) I live in the way of Jesus in my personal sphere of influence, whether that’s my porch, pathway, or pivots[2] (or my spaces, places, people I interact with on the regular)
2.) I practice Sabbath in a personal rhythm to practice living in the Kingdom of God in spiritual, social and cultural renewal
3.) I disciple others to live in the way of Jesus for the renewal of Hawaii

Written comments:

  • What has been the top three most rewarding things that you experienced this past year in MKAO and missional community living and why? 
  • What has been the top three hardest things that you experienced this past year in MKAO and missional community living and why?
  • Do you live a life worth imitating[3]?  Explain. 
  • Do you contribute to a community worth inviting into?  Explain.
  • Do you participate in a mission worth dying for?  Explain. 
  • What are the top three ways that I (and/or others) can walk alongside you in this next season of doing life together in the way of Jesus for the renewal of our city? 

Reflection is vulnerable.  And in the Kingdom of God, vulnerability is powerful.  My hope is that for all of us in the mission of church planting, we would care for our inner persons and those we do life with, so that we discover the power of the Holy Spirit that is found in vulnerability. 

[1] Revised from Woodward, J.R., White, Dan Jr., The Church as Movement (p. 184). IVP Books. Kindle Edition

[2] Revised from Woodward, J.R., White, Dan Jr., The Church as Movement (p. 206). IVP Books. Kindle Edition

[3] Questions from Woodward, J.R., “Questions that Awaken a Leader’s Life”. Christianity Today. January 29, 2019

Please note that this article was originally submitted early 2020, so time references have been edited to reflect the time of posting.

About the Author

Eun Strawser

Rev. Dr. Eun K. Strawser is the co-vocational lead pastor of Ma Ke Alo o (which means “Presence” in Hawaiian), a BGAV Watch Care Church with missional communities multiplying in Honolulu, HI, a community physician, and a Movement Leader at the V3 Movement, the church planting arm of the BGAV. She is also the author of Centering Discipleship: A Pathway for Multiplying Spectators into Mature Disciples (IVP 2023). Prior to transitioning to Hawaii, she served as adjunct professor of medicine at the Philadelphia College of Medicine and of African Studies at her alma mater the University of Pennsylvania (where she and her husband served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) after finishing her Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Dar es Salaam. She and Steve have three, seriously, amazing children.

Share this Post