by Bishop Todd Hunter
For the last five years, I have loved our journey as the Telos Collective, forming leaders at the intersection of gospel and culture! I have loved our speakers and teachers. I loved the conversation partners who attended the annual Intersection Conference, listened to the Intersection Podcast, and interacted with the Intersection Journal. Most of all, I loved the six values that brought us together and shaped our work.
As we complete our intended five-year cycle and bring our journey to a close on March 1, 2022, I want to take a moment to reflect on what each of our six values means to me—and point you to some of our best resources in these areas.
1. Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom.
My followership of Jesus is simply an effort to take him seriously—what he did and taught and the manner in which he did so. Other doctrines and matters of church are fine, but that which ought to focus all discipleship and ministry is the person and work of Jesus—and the rule and reign of God which he announced, demonstrated, and embodied.
2. Sacred Cultural Engagement.
I refuse to wake up every morning hating half of America because they are “of the other political party.” I refuse to fear people having an identity crisis. I refuse to discard people who are rejecting a traditional sexual ethic. God is not stumped by any of this. From the fall of humanity to 2022, God has been present to, and seeking redemption and the healing of, his broken creation. Jesus modeled this for the Church. The role of the Church is to fully differentiate as followers of Jesus while staying connected to non-Christian culture as a non-anxious, healing presence.
3. Missional Ecclesiology.
Ecclesiology is missional by nature. Ecclesiological thinking does not best begin with considerations of the Reformation or even the Fathers. Rather, the Church is animated by, incorporated into, and constituted by the mission of God. The Church, as the reconstituted Jew-Gentile people of God, exists because of the outward-stretching love of God. Jesus was humanity and Israel as God intended. Jesus is the directive head of his body, which means the Church, like Jesus, exists for the sake of others.
4. Missional Leadership.
No congregation is going to love the lost more than its leadership. No church is going to seek healing for the brokenness of the world if it is not modeled by leaders. Missional leadership derives its meaning from the mission of God in Christ. Missional leadership is a participation in Christ’s leadership. It articulates vision and shapes values which call into being and form a community in consistent missional engagement—and the inner heart transformation necessary to do it.
5. Life in the Spirit.
If we trust that Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, “It is better that I go away,” then the Church must come to value a trusting, ongoing, conversational relationship with the Holy Spirit. God’s purposes in full-orbed discipleship require a power that matches his intentions. “Wait [to embark on ministry] until you have received power from on high” (Luke 24:49) is a paradigmatic passage and reality for Christian ministry. We live by God’s design and purpose in an age meant to be marked by an interactive relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Third Person of the Trinity is not a religious option to be tacked on to an otherwise denominational church. He is fundamental to Christian growth (the fruit of the Spirit) and to mission (calling, power, authority, gifts).
6. Spiritual Transformation.
Spiritual transformation is the Spirit-driven (re)creative work of God, forming our inner self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself. This is meant to train us for life in his kingdom. God—his grace—is the primary initiator/actor in the process of spiritual formation. But grace does not set us aside or render us passive. Grace is opposed to earning, not effort. God delights in our partnership with him, in our heart-desired, well-directed, grace-based use of the spiritual disciplines. Life and ministry come from the overflow of one’s heart. Thus:
Put everything you have into the care of your heart— the hidden, causative, motivational you— for everything you do flows from it. It is the real source of your outward life. It determines what your life and leadership amount to (Proverbs 4:23).
The six values of The Telos Collective have challenged my mind and delighted my heart for decades. I will spend the rest of my life thinking about and seeking to live in alignment with these ideals. I hope you will too. I will miss working on these core themes with you.
One thing I’m absolutely sure about—The Telos Collective wouldn’t have been possible without your support and investment! I appreciate all the contributions each of you made to the life of the Telos Collective community. If you’d like to stay connected with my current and future work, check out the recently launched Center for Formation, Justice and Peace. I’m leading an effort to create an interdenominational community that develops the Christlike character necessary to activate justice, leading to a life of deep peace for all people. I’d love to have you join me there.
I also encourage you to stay connected with the Lab for Congregational Discovery, led by Seth Richardson. This work has already helped multiple congregations and hundreds of leaders, and it will live on and expand as it becomes an expression of our long-time partner, Gravity Leadership.
In the beginning of February, visit our site to download any of our resources that might bless you or your ministry for FREE. The Telos website will be archived on March 1. We will also publish our final podcast in the weeks to come, reflecting on our journey together and what it’s meant to all of us.
As we each move into a new year and new phases of ministry, I bless you with the blessing God gave to Moses and Aaron with which to bless the people of God:
May the Lord bless you…may he cause you to prosper richly in every good spiritual gift there is in Christ Jesus.
May the Lord keep you…may he watch over, guard and protect you and all whom you love.
May his countenance be upon you, his face be turned toward you…such that you would see in Jesus how very much he loves you, how accepts you right where you are, and invites you to follow him.
May the Lord be gracious unto you…may you sense his favor, mercy and goodness as you walk with him.
May the Lord grant you peace…may you be at rest and centered in Jesus, who is our Lord, and through whom we ask all these things.
Read The Completion of Our Telos Journey from Executive Director JR Rozko.
Bishop Hunter is the founding bishop of The Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others and founding pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, California. He is past President of Alpha USA, former National Director for the Association of Vineyard Churches and author of Christianity Beyond Belief: Following Jesus for the Sake of Others, Giving Church Another Chance, The Outsider Interviews, The Accidental Anglican, Our Favorite Sins, Our Character at Work and Deep Peace. He is the founder and president of the Telos Collective and the founder of The Center of Formation, Justice and Peace.