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Passion for Mission Reflections 1

This is the first of a series of blogs from Phil Prior on the Global Connections event “A Passion for Mission”, which took place on the 8th June 2017 at All Souls, Langham Place.

The theme was “God’s Mission in a Time of Transition. What is the role of the UK in mission today in a world that has changed so much and continues to change?”

At the event we heard from Peter Rowan from OMF International, Louisa Evans from All Nations and Israel Oluwole Olofinjana from Woolwich Central Baptist Church. We also heard from Martin Lee and welcomed in new Executive Director Anna Bishop. These blog posts will cover some of the main points that were made at the event.

In this post I will be reflecting on words from Peter Rowan’s session.

 When it comes to global mission, Peter spoke of three imperatives for missional connectiveness that ought to be followed. These are:

  1. The imperative of listening.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it like this, ‘The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them.’ So, the first service we owe to mission is to listen to others.

Revelation opens with prophetic messages – the instruction at the end of each message is to all the churches, ‘Whoever has ears let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches’. No single church/mission organisation has a monopoly on the Spirit or the word.

We should make sure that we don’t concentrate so much on what we are doing that we miss what God is doing in the world. We need to listen to voices on the margins. Those places where we used to serve are where God is at work.

‘The deep spiritual sickness afflicting the rich north might actually be healed when the voices from the other world are heard and understood’ – David W Smith.

  1. The imperative of unity.

Reconciliation is at the heart of the Gospel – see Ephesians. So what are the social implications of the Gospel of reconciliation? What does this mean for our evangelism and our mission?

Paul wrote to the Romans, wanting to involve those congregations in his mission to Spain. They had to cooperate with each other before they could cooperate with Paul on his mission. They had to love Christians beyond one small circle.

Our churches need to address our attitudes to each other, and our patronising attitudes to the churches in the majority world. Seeking to maintain Gospel integrity and the unity of the church are not mutually exclusive goals.

‘Jesus calls the church to missional effectiveness by working for unity’ – Ross Hastings

  1. The imperative of radical acts of service.

Sometimes it takes a radical act for people to start listening to each other.

On July 1st 1997. Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty. In contrast to the pomp and ceremony, the pastors of six congregations held a foot washing service at St Andrews church.

‘Rev. John Aldis, senior pastor of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church – the largest English-speaking congregation in Hong Kong – wept as he read a statement of repentance to Chinese pastor Jonathan Chan. Speaking as a representative of Britain to the Hong Kong Chinese people, Aldis asked for forgiven ess for “our injustice, our pride and our isolation.”’ – Read the full story on OMF’s website.

Followers of Jesus are called to take courageous steps to embody the gospel. This needs to start with mission leaders, between churches and between agencies. Are there missional connections of a peacemaking kind that need to begin, even here, today?

 

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Phil Prior

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