The following is the first in a series of conversations with Alliance NW Lead Pastors, taking a closer look at the lived experiences of pastors across the Northwest and celebrating what's been happening in and through their churches. We're calling them Field Notes. Dominic Kan has been the Lead Pastor of Missio, a church that began as a Portland Metro Network plant, for the past three and a half years. This span in the life of Missio has been marked by change in many different forms, all of which he points to as opportunities to encourage, disciple, and commission the church.
For example, Missio rents an elementary school auditorium to meet in, and has done so since it began weekly gatherings back in 2012. "We never settled into a mindset of 'We made it,'" says Kan, "because we never settled into a particular space." This has meant more opportunities for people to take ownership and serve, as the church needs to be unpacked and packed each week. It has also meant the ability to develop relationships with the school and its Principal, serving and ministering to them as a constant presence at the school over the years.
The transient nature of being a "church in a box" also mirrors the lived reality of many of the people whom Missio reaches, in a part of town that includes Lewis & Clark College, OHSU Teaching Hospital, and a local community college campus. Being a church in an area where people come and go every two to four years as they complete schooling has been a "very refining, but very encouraging" experience, says Kan.
Recognizing that this rhythm of moving would be a theme for Missio's community – as well as a way that God would be working through those who leave – the church started a "sending service" for those graduating or taking jobs in new cities. This year, there were six couples that Missio got to pray over, thank for their service, and "commission" to be missionaries in their new locations. What could have gone unmentioned instead became a way to continue the discipleship of those who were leaving, as well encourage the rest of the Missio community who got to witness it.
One person from Missio who has left Portland to serve elsewhere is KaoXu Chang, sent by the church to work with Envision in Bangkok, Thailand, where she has been involved in planting a church for Thai national students and ex-pats. (One thing Bangkok has in common with Portland is its transient population.) In late August, Missio sent a team to Bangkok to provide planting support by hosting a retreat for the Envision team there. "We wanted to be a church plant that plants churches;" Kan said. "This partnership with Bangkok is part of that for us as we participate in the work of making disciples over there."
As a multi-ethnic church now involved in helping plant churches cross-culturally, Missio stands as an example of the way that God is engaged in using each church's unique circumstances – its location, population, and giftings – to facilitate His kingdom work in surprising ways.