I was shocked how long it’s been a while since my last blog. I’ve not given up on blogging but it has taken a back seat whilst I recover from my cardiac event and, if I’m honest, the swirl of questions which accompany getting back to work after a heart attack: ‘what am I doing?’ ‘do I really want to do this?’ ‘should I look for something less stressful?’
Anyway, our church life this term has focused on sharing in Jesus mission. My original intent had been to spend some time in the summer reading and preparing for this series. In the event it has been much more hand to mouth.
Two websites from the US have been helpful in this crash preparation. The first is Verge Network who have some interesting stuff on being missional. The second is Exponential who have a load of ebooks for download which have helped kick start my thinking and sermon prep. For me their main benefit has been in identifying key questions and highlighting areas which need addressing. The main challenge from using stuff worked out in the US has been the cultural translation.
Overall two things stand out from all this. Both of which are quite simple really.
1. As a church we need to be more intentional about being a missionary community and a community of missionaries; where everyone plays a part in the mission. Like many churches we do all sorts of things and many of these programs have a missional intent. The danger has been that we see mission in terms of teams and programs rather than something everyone lives out. Doing Alpha has a place but the real starting point is listening to folk, sharing life and building relationships with them. Changing this mindset is a culture shift and takes longer than a sermon series. The good news is that it’s a journey we’ve been on for a while now but I keep being surprised by how, time and time again, it comes back to being intentional.
2. As a church we need to help and encourage people to see that they can do it. Over the years we seem to have accidentally fallen into two traps. The first is that evangelism and / or mission are activities for those who are gifted and / or have a passion for it. The second, is that when we’ve reminded everyone they are missionaries we’ve wrapped that up with work / life balance and concepts of mission which are so vague the result is that people do less not more. Neither is helpful, both are disempowering. In truth all of us can be friends with people, share our stories of how Jesus has impacted our lives and try to draw people’s attention to signs of the kingdom of God in our midst.
I’m hoping to find time over Christmas to pull together the things we’ve done this term into a short booklet which might be of help to others (if I can find a way of not infringing other people’s copyright). Watch this space!