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I Will Tend

Let me begin with a confession, I am not very good at cross-examining the theology of the hymns I happen to be singing. Tom Wright’s wonderful book, Surprised by Hope, did leave me wondering where I had missed spotting Buddhist eschatology, Gnosticism and Platonism in some of my favourite and not so favourite hymns,  but like many others I can be sucker for a good tune disguising some ropy theology. However, this Sunday I was caught off guard singing the hymn, I the Lord of Sea and Sky. It is a great hymn based loosely on Isaiah 6. The first half of verse three goes like this:

I the Lord of wind and flame,

I will tend the poor and lame,

I will set a feast for them.

My hand will save.

At least it goes like that if you take the words from Complete Mission Praise. However, in the equally incomplete, Complete Celebration Hymnal there is a minor change, just the change of a letter in fact. Here the “Lord of wind and flame” will send the poor and lame. In the changing of a single letter the poor and lame cease to be those ministered to, to whom we are sent (chorus: Here I am Lord……I will go Lord…) and become the agents of mission. One letter turns the theology on its head and raises some helpful questions.

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Giving: good. Fundraising: bad?

Zoe Bunter from The Leprosy Mission was one of our speakers at our Integral Mission Forum on the 13th September 2016, in which fundraising from a Christian perspective was considered. Here are some of her further thoughts on the matter.

As followers of Christ we are called to help people in need. Jesus demonstrated this throughout his ministry, and the parable of the good Samaritan is an example of how practical Jesus makes it – help the person who others ignore, give them what they need – whether that is medical help, money, shelter or transport.Read more

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Deep roots for dry times

Have you noticed that mission workers are often expected to be spiritually self-sufficient, able to sustain themselves by feeding on God’s word alone, with little or no access to relevant church or fellowship groups? Curiously, the people who assert this are often those who tell Christians that they cannot survive spiritually without regularly attending church meetings, Bible studies, home groups…. Why are mission workers expected to be so different?

The truth is that most of us are not different. We struggle to maintain our spiritual vitality without friends around us. Our spiritual disciplines can fail under the pressure of demands on us. We can become discouraged when we labour long in the mission field with apparently little result. We dry up inside, and our relationship with God can be little more than going through the motions.Read more

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Three in a marriage? – reflections of a ‘team directorate’

Let’s be honest, team-working is often only an aspirational value in both church and mission agency. I say this because it’s fine until we talk about doing it in top-leadership – i.e. a “team directorate”. This is ‘sacred ground’, which provokes questions such as “Is it biblical?”; “Someone has to be the buck-stop?”; “What when you disagree?”; “How does accountability work?”

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Breaking the Silos

“Resilience in member care is an important idea, but when I began looking I found that lots of areas of study have been wrestling with the idea of resilience.  We just need to tap into it.”

The student giving this presentation was voicing a frustration that is familiar and important.  Knowledge and ideas tend to sit in silos of information that often do not interlink.   Sometimes a certain silo will become quite excited about a certain idea or approach and it will swirl in a vortex of excitement and newness.   If enough energy is gathered it sometimes spills over into other areas, but all too often it doesn’t and just stays in one area.

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Global Connections Conference Reflections – Part 5

This is the fifth in a series of blogs on the Global Connections conference in May 2016, From Where I’m Sitting, where we sought to explore mission from different perspectives. You can listen to the talks on the Global Connections events page. I had the privilege to seek feedback on what was heard on the last morning and made a wide range of points…
Another key point raised was “churches need to be at the centre of mission”.
Our Global Options conference way back in 2004 focused on how to help the church be central to world mission. It resulted in our strapline: “Mission at the heart of the church, the church at the heart of mission”
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A photo by Luke Chesser. unsplash.com/photos/KR2mdHJ5qMg

Two Pastors Met For Coffee

Mike:   Have you heard that a new church has started in the community centre?

Tim:    Yes, someone did mention it. It has a rather strange name – The Church of the High Priest Jesus Christ[1].  Where in Africa are they from?

Mike:   I think it is from somewhere in the CAR.

Tim:    CAR?

Mike:   Central African Republic. It seems their services are in French.

Tim:    Do any of them speak English?

Mike:   I think most of them do and certainly the Pastor, but they are happier in French or Sango

Tim:    So have you met the Pastor?

Mike:   Yes. I asked her why they were opening another church in town. She said that no one else was putting on a service in French and their people found it more helpful to worship in their own language.

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Education for the Kingdom

WITNESS WITHIN THE MAINSTREAM

The late Dennis Lennon, OMF missionary to Thailand, talked about ‘the strategic importance of establishing witness within the main stream of education.’[1]

I’ve been on the receiving end of that kind of witness. Sitting on my bookshelf is the copy of John Stott’s Issues Facing Christians Today that one of my secondary school teachers gave me. Let no one underestimate the missional significance of a Christian teacher, especially in the state school system, who over the long haul exercises a godly influence in the classroom and local community.

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