There have been significant changes within the mission world, during the last 2 decades, that are beginning to re-shape our world. Like all things, some are ahead of the curve and others lagging but they are happening as the para-church agencies, and churches, are grappling with seismic shifts that are enforcing new ways of working.
3 of the most important moves have been:
a) a move to partnerships – there is recognition that we are unable to work alone and have to begin working together. This is apparent in both mission agencies and church denominations.
b) Church being central – Agencies in particular are realising the need to work with and alongside the church, rather than ‘for’ the church. For some agencies, this is a change that has radically re-ordered their ministry.
c) Equipping – many mission agencies are moving beyond the ‘doing’ to equipping the saints for works of service. This allows and provides opportunity for a greater contextual ministry in a globalised world and helps the church seed new initiatives. Training is in vogue again!
How these changes are being managed is open for debate but they remain essential. These are exciting days.
“Leading a Multicultural Church” by Malcolm Patten – A practitioner and a thinker who lays a beautiful theological cushion from which we can stand and become a genuine practitioner who engages with the multiple cultures of our cities. There is a depth and reality to this book that should be on the shelf of every ministry in an urban setting, practical, real and helpful. 10/10
“The World on our Doorstep” by Dewi Hughes – This book answers questions about other faiths, gives tools for how to engage them with Christendom and pitfalls to avoid. A useful book for those seeking to step into evangelism in a multicultural context. 8/10
There is a rising number of ‘resource church’ labels being bandied around these days. It is a fresh take on the old latimer model and with the size of the urban centres increasing exponentially the Cathedral system needs greater support. It is not a bad thing but it may be helpful for these churches to know what they are resourcing, what the strategy is and if there is a need for them to be bunched together.
This is not a rant but a plea for some fresh thinking. Local church takes on a whole new understanding in a large urban sprawl that has good transport links. Community looks different in many places and there is a willingness for many to travel. A local church can be a fair distance from where you live because local is smaller (not the same in an estate – there are exceptions, especially for those for whom travel is not an accessible option) but this tends to be less likely for the poorer families and communities. Their local is not quite the same.
Wouldn’t it be great if the resource churches used their resources to enable those with less freedom rather than use resources for ‘bigger and better events’ in their own setting? This is the intention for many but can easily be forgotten…..let’s make sure we keep it on the agenda so that every community has access to ‘local’ christian witness, whatever your definition of local.
Yesterday we celebrated the Risen Christ, it was great seeing social media feeds full of talk about Jesus. Today we discover the difference that makes in community, in cities, in the world.As ministers of reconciliation, we are called to bring hope, bring change, to see justice and declare the Christ. Let our words of yesterday stay strong and let’s adorn them with action….we are in a new season that this nation may once again turn to Christ.
I am so fortunate to work for a Christian organisation (London City Mission) that has a high emphasis on Gospel proclamation. We are engaged in good works but we place a higher priority on sharing the message of salvation in Christ and the need for repentance, in order that we can live an abundant life that brings glory to God. It is an exciting place to work because we work in partnership across the Church in London and serve in some communities that do not necessarily have easy opportunity to hear the gospel in an accessible way. As a result, our team are innovators who look at every opportunity to present the gospel message, clearly, succinctly and in a host of different ways, and respond with patient perseverance amongst the variety of people within their communities. They are an inspiration and bring transformation to the places where they work, there are not many places where you could say the same about your colleagues!
Last week, we began the year with a week of prayer, something which is an annual event in the life of London City Mission, that enabled us to focus on our faith in God, our need for God and the desire to be rooted in Christ in all that we do. We recognise the need for God’s strengthening and enabling in our ministry and so prayer is a vital part of daily routine. Will you pray with us? Will you pray for us? London needs Jesus and we value the support of all those who can stand with us in this vital ministry to London. Our team produce a daily prayer diary (download here) which can help fuel your prayers, please feel free to partner with us – if you already do, thank you. Your prayers are making a difference.
Love this quote from T.J.Addington and the heart for Reach Global
“For leaders who bring change and desire that change to last, there are two tipping points to watch. The first tipping point is a change in thinking. One of the significant changes we have been working on in ReachGlobal is for our staff to be equippers of others rather than primarily doers. In this way we move from a model of addition in missions to a model of multiplication. For those who came into the organization when staff were primarily doers, this has been a difficult transition to make, but ten years in we have passed the tipping point in thinking multiplication rather than addition. The second and more difficult tipping point is that of figuring out how to do multiplication rather than addition. Until that occurs, the new DNA will not have been planted in a way that will outlast our current leadership. It is really about developing, empowering, and releasing others in ministry. As that concept catches momentum, the DNA of being equippers will become part of the lasting culture of ReachGlobal.” T.J.Addington
From the book by “T.J.Addington “Deep Influence”
“seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
God loves the city but the way we act as Christians does not always demonstrate this. We have chosen a mission field that fits our comfortable lives rather than the mission field of God. God wants everyone in the city to know Himself but we can act with fear and trembling when it comes to certain ‘no-go’ areas. Our own well being is linked to the well being of ALL the people that live near us and around us….note that…ALL! This is real community and we need to see ‘all’ of the city as our mission field and that includes some people that we will find difficult, uncomfortable and not necessarily those that we would associate with.
In my current role, I speak with churches and groups who desire to make a difference. The first thing that I am asked is for the ‘winner takes all’ strategy, thankfully they do not quit when one is not offered. There are things that can be done;
Pray for your community
Blindingly obvious but often a step that is missed
Be in your community
In a mobile city this step can be ignored but it is often the poorer and more marginalised that are least mobile and forgotten. The organisation that I work for is seeking to adopt a strategy for key workers of ‘live, work and worship’ in the community. Not everyone can adopt this but it is worth considering
Know your community
Be the expert of your community; who lives where? what is available? where are the services? what is the history? Be the sage of the area….it matters!
Love your community
This can be done in many ways. Pick up litter as you pass, open your home to people, be available to people, talk with people, listen to people. Love the people and care for the environment, you will be surprised how people respond.
Seek the welfare of the city….go for it….be amazed at what God can do!
“You don’t need to be from a place of disadvantage in order to serve the disadvantaged” Kenny Borthwick
“The poor and disadvantaged know things about the kingdom that we need to learn” Kenny Borthwick
“Decline in the church seems to start in the family” David Voas
“Parish geography needs further thought as more communities are gathered than geographical” David Voas
“Sometimes we need to break concrete before we can sow seeds within the soil” Mark Russell
“The challenge for evangelists is to be results expectant and not result dependant” Mark Russell
“Transformation is the inevitable result of the incarnation” – Joel Edwards
“Cities and churches can display all of the outer trappings of success but still be lacking in the sight of God when it comes to the marginalised” – Sean Benesh
“Your core values are influenced not by what you see, but how you see” – Paul Manwaring
“Keeping promises is a hallmark of integrity because it demonstrates that we can be trusted to do what we say we will do” – Graham,Huntsman, Blanchard