Hugh Halter & Forge America

To the Forge Family

As most of you are hearing or have heard, I have agreed to jump in with FORGE and lend a hand.  Many of you are friends and know me well, but others barely know me and I’m sure there are some questions about who I am, why I’ve decided to make this move, and what is on my heart for FORGE. So I want to take a moment and share a bit of my heart with you all and specifically address the big ‘why?’ of all this.

First, I’m getting older! As I approach the big 50, I’ve found that my personal ambitions are falling by the wayside and all I’ve been thinking about is how to have the most influence with the leaders for God’s future church.  As my 21 year old daughter Alli is getting married in a month and my 19 year old daughter McKenna finishes her last two years of college, they have both shared how impossible it has been to find a community on mission that makes sense for them and the friends they hope find Jesus some day. This kills me! Even though I am tired of 25 years of church planting life, I’m now begging God to give me new energy for the harvest and for leaders who will be able to pave a new path for fresh, vibrant, culturally relevant expressions of kingdom community.  So this is my ultimate motivation for why I’m jumping in with FORGE.

Second, Cheryl and I want to be with a ‘tribe’ this next 20 years and the people in FORGE are the ones I love being with and am inspired by. As the missional movement has taken the national conversation, it has given me many opportunities to be with Alan & Deb Hirsch, Mike Frost, Kimmo (Kim Hammond), Brad Brisco, Lance Ford, Ryan & Laura Hairston, and many more who have been serving the FORGE mission. Whereas we have simply bounced off of each other, I can’t wait to call this movement my family and friends. Cheryl and I don’t just need a new mission. We need a tribe to live life with and work with.

Third, when I am asked if the missional movement will make it, I constantly hear people asking, and begging for real life stories that will give early, middle and late adopters courage to press beyond present paradigms of church. So strategically, I feel I want to give my time to FORGE because I think it is the closest network that can re-org around DANGEROUS STORIES that will move the missional conversation beyond the conversation. As we roll out some new vision, you will notice that we are going to move FORGE beyond a missions training community to a family that sets the foundation for missional movement.

All movements need four things: Training, Resources, A Network to hold people together, but the first and most important element of movements, is to have “STORIES.” Stories that people can be inspired by, find hope in, and practical hand holds that allow them to become true missionary practitioners.

As such, we believe the best thing FORGE can do is make our primary metric to facilitate, train, capture, share, and propel dangerous stories around the world. We are setting the calendar to now bring back an idea that the Australian FORGE tribe launched years ago. A national convocation for the FORGE tribe called Dangerous Stories.  This annual tribal gathering will be the launching point to capture, and share new stories with the church at large and it will guide us into how we use the FORGE hubs, the learning communities, the apprenticeship environments, and consulting to help dangerous stories increase. Each year we will launch another ‘ledger’ of dangerous mega churches who made a significant shift, dangerous church plant efforts, dangerous neighborhood incarnational communities, dangerous missional initiatives that serve the least and lost, dangerous life renovations by business leaders, BiVO leaders, Bivo house moms and plumbers who are creating amazing kingdom impact.

My desire is that when anyone asks, “Does any of this missional stuff ever work or turn into something?” all we have to do is point them to what will be a massive catalog of real, doable dangerous stories.

So what does this mean for all of us? All of us who silently found ourselves drawn into and dancing together in the FORGE tribe? I think it is a call back to the streets. A call back to examine our own lives and push beyond all the reasons we may have softened our local leaderships or commitment to new wineskins and true incarnational life and community. We must all have our own dangerous stories. Not stories from the past but stories we are flipping the pages of now.

When I knew that God was asking me to help guide this new season of FORGE, the first lump in my chest was about how I would lead from my life. The Tangible Kingdom was the story of my last 12 years, but it isn’t going to be the story of the next 10 years. So Cheryl and I, have been for months talking about, planning and praying about filling our home again and allowing God to build his church. What will this one look like? Will it work? Who cares!  The mission of God is not something that waits for success to begin. The mission of God is a call for us all, at all times, and in all places to simply Go and Go the way Jesus would Go.  This will be our next dangerous story that I can now roll the dice with and I can’t wait to see what God does. 

The Forge Motto makes all the sense in the world for me, and for the whole world.  

“TRAINING MEN AND WOMEN TO LIVE AS MISSIONARIES WHERE THEY ARE ALREADY DOING LIFE.” Love it!

As I end this message, I want to say a huge thanks to Kim and Maria Hammond for taking a ‘faith of leap’ to come to the US at Alan’s beckoning and faithfully forging out FORGE. We all know what it cost them, how extensive their struggle was not only in creating FORGE America but with all their health issues literally fighting off death. As many of you were, I was not only upholding them in prayer but I was personally inspired by the relentless and yet relational way they gathered the tribe together. Kim and Maria, we, and countless thousands who will someday be moved by FORGE America owe you a debt of friendship and faithfulness on our own part. You led well. You led without knowing how you would pay the bills and we will not forget what you did in pioneering this great work.

Also, to the original founders of Deb and Alan Hirsch, & Michael and Carolyn Frost, we hope this new season will bring a smile to your beautiful faces.  To the mostly volunteer servant team of Brad & Mischele Brisco, Ryan & Laura Hairston, Lance and Sherri Ford, John and Jeri Taylor, and many others I’m just getting to know, thanks for supporting the Hammonds and FORGE with your time, your skills, your passion, and your vision. I know how much you all worked and most of your work was without pay and without a job description or business card. You literally gave because you felt called to the tribe! To all the FORGE Hub leaders I can’t wait to meet, thanks for all the work you are doing on the ground to create viable apostolic centers where missionaries are trained and sent. You have all laid an amazing foundation.

To all of you who may see this letter but who haven’t found a tribe. I invite you to FORGE. A movement of missionaries, who hold the hand of the crazy pioneer but also the hand of the church looking to move forward. An environment for the mega and micro leaders, the priest and plumber, the soccer mom or dad who simply want to reach their neighborhood.  No need coming to us if you’re pissed off and still pointing the finger at the church. We’re not interested. 

But come if you’ve still got a little wind in your sails, a little passion, a heart for the poor, the broken, the dis-engaged and disenfranchised.  Come if you’re trying to find your dangerous story and a tribe to share it with.

I can’t wait to have you meet my lady Cheryl and get working together. Viva le FORGE! Time to get dangerous!

Hugh Halter