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?”
In the first quarter of 2016, Global Connections ran an online survey of missionary recruitment in both the short and long term. There was only a limited response to the questionnaire, but the results do allow us to draw some tentative conclusions.
“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.
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”
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. Where in Africa are they from?
Mike: I think it is from somewhere in the 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.
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.’
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.
Anti-racist legislation is designed to protect people in the West from bias arising from ethnicity or skin colour to ensure that everyone is treated equally. People originating from other parts of the world should be taken as being as competent to function in the UK as are native British people.
This raises the question of what to do if someone is in need of something that regular Westerners do not need? What happens to any differences between communities that may actually exist? Are there any differences for which one should compensate or with which people need to be helped? Could it be that as a result of anti-racist legislation, these kinds of differences are ignored and that this could result in leaving people disadvantaged?
This is the fourth 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 “Agencies need to collaborate, innovate and take risk”
Chris Kidd commented about hearing from so many competing mission agencies. “As a church youth worker, it is like being part of a rugby scrum”.
There has been an enormous growth in the number of mission agencies. There are many reasons for that, one of course is that the whole meaning of mission has changed as we discussed in an earlier blog. There is a plethora of smaller, one country or one project ministries. That is not necessarily a bad thing, some are dynamic and visionary. There is no time to think through the large number of reasons, both good ones and there are many not so good ones.
We’ve probably all heard the old adage: that to ‘assume’ things makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.
As our church has grown in experience, we’ve realised that, when we start new mission partnerships, we need to clarify our assumptions with our missionaries and their mission agencies. So we’ve developed a 3 way written agreement.
- The first page sets out what we are hoping to do as a sending church – praying, providing financial support, helping with pastoral care etc.
- The second page sets out what we are hoping our missionaries will do – working diligently, keeping in touch, alerting us about any serious issues etc.
- And the third page sets out what are hoping the mission agency will do – support and supervision, administering financial gifts, crisis management etc.
We have a draft partnership agreement, but it’s just a ‘starter for ten’ and is often adapted and personalised. When everyone’s happy with it, we all sign it and everyone keeps a copy. Then when we meet to review the partnership, or if problems arise, it’s a firm foundation to which we can refer.
Of course we’re not the only ones. For example, SIM have a similar agreement, but with 4 parts – for the church, the missionary, the UK agency office and the field office!
We’ve made it available on our website (www.allsouls.org/wmr) so that others can use of it – and we’re hoping to add more resources. It’s also a work in progress. Every year we amend and improve it, to reflect what we’ve learnt, and we welcome feedback (email us at email@example.com). As missions community it’s great when we can share resources, swap ideas and help one another grow.
Most mission organisations place men and women in multicultural mission teams. But wouldn’t it be so much simpler and less stressful for team members and their leaders if we simply built teams with people from the same cultural backgrounds? Why can’t we be part of teams made up of Our Kind of People – to use the title of one of Peter Wagner’s books?
The danger with that approach is that if we allow teams to be made up simply of our kind of people, we’ll end up preaching our kind of gospel and planting our kind of churches. And whilst that might be very comfortable it may not be very biblical. There are three good reasons for multicultural mission teams.