This is where I see a vital role for the mission agency to play: it’s not about mobilising resources; perhaps not even so much about care and support; it’s really to do with training, reorienting ourselves, and the necessary context for learning and reflection.
Jesus does not write a book to transmit the good news to succeeding generations. Instead, he chooses, prepares and commissions a community to make the goal of universal history known.
I wonder whether there may be some hints in this story of what global mission needs to feel like from a UK perspective as millennials increasingly emerge as leaders in our context: Friendship, mutuality, equality, meaning, participation…and how can these ideas be adapted to, for example, a church-to-church partnership? Let’s keep thinking and praying, and indeed listening to millennials…
When faced with the choices of going to Spain to reach the unreached or going to Jerusalem to serve the poor Christians there, Paul chose Jerusalem. According to a number of modern writers on mission, Paul got his priorities all wrong!
The one-sided emphasis on celebration not only ignores the suffering, struggles and doubts of people within congregations, so increasing their distress by making them feel guilty that they are unable to join the party, but, even more seriously, it suppresses knowledge of the crisis threatening the very survival of our world…
So much of our training in evangelism stops after we have prepared people to communicate the gospel. However, the best evangelists aren’t necessarily just expert speakers, but expert listeners. Sharing faith is not just about giving great answers, it’s about asking great questions.
So why join an agency? For me, the biggest reason was to be accountable. I felt that the local church wasn’t equipped to keep me accountable on a continual rather than an occasional basis.
If we don’t listen to people, we will almost certainly misunderstand and misconstrue their beliefs and our presentation of the gospel is likely to go flying over their heads in a blaze of irrelevance.
I want mission that we can experience, that we can partner with, that’s accountable and real. I don’t want another alphabet soup prayer day. I want to enjoy partnership in the gospel so that we can all benefit, as we strive to make disciples of all nations.
There are many ways to reach out to people at home and around the world; the key is that we do something. This is partly because this is the calling of the Church; mission is in our very nature, but also because the actual act of being involved in mission brings huge blessing to the church that does it.