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.
We talk a great deal about partnership between organisations but we need to recognise that partnership may have limitations. Each and every organisation has its own strategic aims and objectives and whilst the synergy of partnership will strengthen everyone, there is always the hurdle of autonomy within it that will need to be negotiated.
For a healthy partnership, it is essential to have a respect for the autonomy of the other party in terms of its goals and objectives alongside its own hard fought for identity. This is why a partnership requires clear objectives to underline the value and the goals of the relationship. What are we trying to achieve? What is the purpose of the partnership? What does success look like?
For the Church and mission, partnership is essential. The way we engage and have love for one another will determine the level of its success.
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.