For the last 5 months w ehave been reading the book of Acts and we have watched the church develop and the gospel spread across Asia. Of course the challenge for us is to grasp what the implications are for our own backyard.
How do we point people to Jesus in this secular western culture? How do we engage in mission to the western world.
Some of what we have done over the last few weeks includes:
- Earthing stuff biblically – sadly the whole idea of mission has become trendy and has become a bit of the flavour of the month. So people can see it as the next fad. By taking our cues from Acts I think we get to really engage with the biblical story and see that although we live in a different age, the hope of seeing the gospel spread and the kingdom come is one that is constant. And we can learn from the stories in Acts.
- Brought people in to tell stories that will inspire – Andrew & Sharon work among the gay scene and the sex worker communities and Sharon came to share some of that journey. Alisha lives in a slum in Thailand with the UNOH crew and she came and share her story also. I think its good for people’s imaginations to be stirred and to be encouraged to see paths that can be taken outside of running a craft group and a playgroup. To be fair, for some people a playgroup or craft group is a fantastic idea, but I sense our imagination gets stunted after a while and we find it hard to see beyond these regular church gigs.
- Reflecting on Who We Are As Individuals – last week Billy led us in an excellent process that caused us to reflect on who God is, who we are as individuals, and how we are placed in life. The desired outcome was “to help people use their uniqueness to make a big deal of God every day of their lives.” It was good on several levels. In church that day we spent a lot of time in pairs helping each other reflect, so there was a strong relational dynamic at work, but there was also real value in validating who people are as individuals and helping them to see that there isn’t a ‘type’ they need to conform to in order to be validated as a missionary at QBC. Everyone could go away hopeful.
- Reflecting on Shapes Mission Can Take – Yesterday I took the final session in our 5 month series to tell stories and get people interacting around some possibilities. We did an interesting exercise that looked at how confident we feel in mission situations and asked people to physically move and stand on a continuum from feeling very confident to totally lacking confidence. Some of the discussion that flowed out of that was really helpful. One reflection I found particularly helpful was when I observed one of our newer South African immigrants standing right at the ‘low confidence’ end when it came to mission. She is a confident woman so I asked her why she found herself there and she said that it was because she didn’t feel confident with sharing the gospel in Australian culture yet – she was still feeling her way. Very cool – because she was doing what missionaries do – learning the context before barging in.
We moved from there to asking people to form groups around various different (and often overlapping) expressions of mission.
We set 8 different boards up around the room with the following categories:
a) Programs – church organised, specific activities that mix Christians and non-Christians
b) Hospitality – making a welcoming space for others in your life and home
c) Community Activities – joining in existing community based activities and being salt and light in those places
d) The ‘Dark Places’/Needy – going to groups that others see as outcasts and showing God’s love to them
e) Service Projects – using practical skills to serve and bless people
f) The Workplace – seeing your workplace as the primary place where God wants you to demonstrate his love and reach out to others.
g) Organic relational mission – connecting with people in the flow of life
h) Another Idea – Another idea I haven’t thought of
People headed off to sit in different groups and share some learning around the focus they felt was most natural for them. This activity really needed an hour to be of any benefit, but it got truncated to 20 minutes. Hopefully it allowed people to think a little, meet others like them and spark some fresh ideas. Interestingly the only group that had no participants was ‘Community Activities’. It wasn’t a perfect scenario as people obviously move across several groups, but it did cause people to locate themselves and engage.
I am fairly convinced that anything that requires a physical response of us as well as some verbal reflections is likely to evoke more learning than a simple sermon.
So as we get to the end of this we haven’t made any more tangible plans. We don’t have a 5 year strategy for changing the world, but I think we have stirred people and we will continue to appropriately poke and prod, encourage and challenge over the rest of the year.
Our hope is that we keep molding the DNA of QBC to make it one that sees the people who are not with us as a top priority.