Jo

We’re All Called to Belong (Issue 30)

Posted on

In the last edition of Intermission we explored how we’re all called to be missional. Mission isn’t just for some elusive ‘Christian elite.’ We’re all called!

We identified five missional postures and gave some ideas of what these could look like in each of our lives. But we only scratched the surface. We’re going to go through the postures this year, dedicating an intermission to each one. So at the start of 2017, let’s remember that:

 

We’re all called to Belong Participate Pray Give Go

 

In this edition we’re looking at how we’re all called to belong to God’s family of mission. We probably all know that we’re called to participate in God’s mission in some capacity, but often we feel pressure to do more without knowing what to do. Mission is almost always easier – and better – when it’s done together! The following articles will give some ideas of what mission as a community of God’s people, what mission together, can look like.

And to answer your question: Why the frogs? Since this is a series, we wanted to tie them together visually with something quirky that would make them stand out.

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

We’re All Called to Go (Issue 29)

Posted on

“There’s just no opportunities.” That’s what my team said to me as we sat in a radio station break room in the Middle East. No opportunities?! Simply to prove a point, I told them I was heading out for 10 minutes and would return with a story. Well, it took 20 minutes, but in that time I bumped into multiple people I could start a good conversation with, offered a traveller some chips, was taken by said traveller to meet the leader of a human rights movement, and was told that he could introduce me to a leader of a key political party.

Why couldn’t my team see the opportunities in front of us? Maybe it’s because, though we’d travelled overseas we hadn’t yet truly learned the posture of ‘sentness.’

‘AS YOU GO’

Matthew 28 often comes up when we’re talking about the ‘GO’ of mission. Jesus tells his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations”. In mission circles we often lock on to that first word, stressing how God calls his people to “go” into all the world. But in the Greek, the emphasis is actually on “making disciples”. And the word for go might better be translated “as you go” – as you go about your life, focus on making disciples.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be going – it means we need to think of ‘going’ in broader terms. ‘Going’ doesn’t just mean traveling to an unfamiliar part of the world. It’s more an attitude of the heart, a posture of readiness. Some are called to travel, particularly to places where the Gospel has made little headway – think of Jesus’ challenge to the disciples in Acts 1:8. But going doesn’t just mean relocating; it means knowing we’re all equally sent.

Missional believers have a posture of ‘sentness’ – deep in their hearts they’re aware they’ve been and are always being sent by the God of mission. So regardless of whether that sentness involves a plane, learning a language, picking up a skateboard, visiting prisons or knocking on your neighbour’s door, God calls each of us to live from a posture of being sent.

ALL MISSION IS LOCAL

What’s more important: local mission or global mission? We all have our opinions, but the fact is, no matter where you are its local. In a real sense, there’s no such thing as ‘over there,’ because as soon as you arrive ‘over there’ it becomes ‘here.’

Why’s that an important observation? Because we often have an idea that, if only we could travel to some exciting place, engaging in mission will be easy. Somehow it can seem that a plane ride can transform us from ‘normal Christian’ to ‘missionary superstar.’ But who you are overseas is the same person you are back home – your habits, disciplines, strengths, gifts, weaknesses and fears don’t suddenly change. Like they say: ‘Wherever you go, there you are.”

Missional folk know it’s not about where you are, but who you are. For them, mission doesn’t have a start and end date; it’s an all-of-life thing. When they get on that plane, they’re ready for whatever God brings their way. But it’s just the same when they leave the house on a normal Monday morning for their workplace. In fact, time and again we find it’s people who know how to live missionally here who thrive when they relocate to a new part of the world. Why? Because they’re already living it out! They live from this posture of ‘sentness.’

HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE

In many ways, I think the Church in New Zealand is a sleeping giant. Every day we cross paths with people who don’t know Jesus, who are hurting, who need someone to talk to. Lurking beneath the surface in our cities and suburbs are injustices, prejudices, addictions, needs, cycles of poverty. There’s enough opportunity in your own neighbourhood to keep you busy for a lifetime.

In fact, some argue that there’s so much need here that we can’t justify focusing on problems somewhere else. It’s a fair point actually, especially when there’s so much more we could be doing in our communities and when those engaged in local mission often feel alone in their efforts.

But that doesn’t mean global mission isn’t important. Coming back to Matthew 28, even though the emphasis is on making disciples, “all the nations” will never be discipled unless some of us get on a plane or boat or jeep or hiking trail and GO to them. There’s still an urgent need for people willing to go into all the world for the sake of Christ and his Kingdom – particularly to the ‘difficult places.’ For years the vast majority of global mission resources have been invested in areas where the Gospel has already taken root, whereas areas with little Gospel witness remain largely neglected. The harvest remains plentiful, but the number putting their hand up to serve overseas is actually decreasing. That means that though we’re all called to have a GO-ing attitude, some of us really are called to put our feet to the ground and GO somewhere new.

Having a GO posture means being ready to respond when God starts prompting you to a particular place, people group, neighbourhood, culture, street corner or club – whether that’s ‘here’ or ‘over there’! The question for us is, have we been seeking God about where and what and who he would call us to, or have we seen mission as something for someone else?

Regardless of where we do our going, we’re all called to GO.

 

For discussion What’s the difference between seeing sentness in terms of where you go and seeing it as an attitude of the heart? What difference does it make for you?

As someone called to belong to God’s community of mission service, what’s his challenge to you and your group when it comes to going?

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

Making Mission the Centre (Issue 29)

Posted on

The latest issue of Intermission explores what it means to belong to the NZCMS family. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting these articles to our website to highlight the fact that we’re ALL called to be part of God’s mission in the world. Join us as we seek to Make Mission the Centre for every follower of Jesus.

Mission means different things to different people. For some it’s about planting churches; for others, planting trees. For some it means critiquing local or national government; for others, working within political frameworks. Some say it’s about going overseas; others say it’s going next door. For some it means developing businesses; for others it’s challenging the business worldview. There can be a lot of energy invested into figuring out what mission is. But our questions are too small if they’re only about what is and isn’t ‘mission work.’

The more important question is: what’s it mean to be missional? Mission isn’t so much about what we do, but who we are; missional activity flows out of missional lifestyles. If we focus on the activity, we’ll probably conclude that some people have ‘higher callings’ than others. But what matters isn’t so much what we’re called to do; it’s whether or not we’re being faithful to who God’s called us to be.

This Intermission is framed around five missional postures that help form us as individuals and communities on mission. Our hope is that you’ll join us in making these postures part of your own life. God’s inviting each of us to participate in his ‘community of mission service’ – will we respond to his call?

Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Mission (Issue 28)

Posted on

At the end of a trip, one of the students uttered the words every leader hopes to hear: “This was the best short-term mission experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a bunch.” I’ve led my fair share of teams, so what made this one so good? Was it my amazing, charismatic leadership? … Actually, no! Perhaps ironically, it’s because we didn’t follow the typical approaches for short-term mission trips.

In many cases, short-term teams want to maximize the opportunity by visiting as many places, people and projects as they can. Instead, we decided to stay in one location and work with one church. And typically, short-term teams pack as much into the schedule as possible. In our case, it wasn’t long before our contact ran out of things for us to do! He’d even dismiss the team after morning Bible studies, telling us to “just take rest today.” We were in a bustling South Asian city, so once the contact left I’d whisper to the team: “we’re not taking rest today.” Instead we’d break into groups, ask God what we should do, and then go do it. We’d end up encountering new people, finding and meeting needs, and sharing life with various folk. It’s hard to summarise just how fruitful this actually was!

So why did my student think this was the best mission experience he’d had? “Because what we’ve done here is precisely what we can do back home.” Normally we run around doing so much, meaning there’s no way we can replicate it in our normal lives. But here, we were integrating mission and regular life. We were learning how to be open to the opportunities God was opening up in front of us.

FINDING A BETTER WAY

This experience left me wondering: are there approaches and models for short-term teams that will help people integrate what they learn into their ‘normal lives.’ I’m not interested in people creating nice memories. There needs to be something of ongoing value from the experience for both the team and those we’re seeking to serve. How can we be making disciples (Matthew 28:19) not just good trips?

Many short-term teams go out with very little solid training – but good intentions are simply not enough! Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions (Moody Publishers, 2014) is a new biblically grounded training package designed to help short-term teams prepare, process and maximise their experience. It also helps teams avoid attitudes and practices that actually harm the communities we’re seeking to bless. Though it focuses on teams going to poorer communities, we think it’s beneficial for almost any team crossing cultures.

It’s made up of eight 90 minute sessions that include reflections, discussion questions and short video teachings. Each team member receives a Participants Guide to help them process all they’re learning, and the Leader’s Guide is designed to give the team leader(s) all they need to know to facilitate the training, preparation and debrief. We hope this package will assist many Kiwis put together, implement and process short-term mission encounters.

If you’re interested in finding out more or discussing your ideas for a short-term Encounter Team experience with NZCMS, email kirstin@nzcms.org.nz

 

For discussion

In what ways do teams need to prepare and train well – whether for a cross-cultural trip or local mission?

If you want to explore in your small group how these concepts apply to local (and global) mission, I can’t recommend enough the free online video series ‘Helping Without Hurting’

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

Younger Leader’s Gathering

Posted on

I’ve recently had the privilege of attending the Lausanne Movement’s Younger Leader’s Gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia. This movement is all about bringing together mission leaders and new missional ideas – and we were gathered to ‘seek God about his plans for our generation.’ Lausanne isn’t a mission organisation; it’s a connection point for numerous mission groups, denominations, nationalities… all uniting around the dream of seeing God’s Kingdom reaching to the furthest corners of the world and influencing society at every level.

It’s impossible to even summarise the connections and strategies that emerged from this gathering, so I’ll offer just one. The Church of an Asian country have a strategy to send over 20000 missionaries by the year 2030. That sounds all good and well, but they are actually making it happen! During the conference, the delegation from this country met with groups from every region of the world, asking how they can partner together to see this dream become a reality! In the near future we will see this become one of the top missionary-sending nations in the world! This is just one example of a considerable number of partnerships that forged during the gathering, and I’m privileged to be part of it all.

 

The State of the World

I thought you’d be interested to hear some details from a “State of the World” presentation by Operation World. Their figures are, of course, just estimates, but they certainly challenge us about the reality of the world we live in. It’s essential that we have clear understanding of our global context, as this informs our on-the-ground local efforts. Here’s some highlights.

Only during the 1990s did we gain a somewhat complete picture of our global context. We know better than ever where the church is, where the church still needs to go, and what the church still needs to do.

More people have become believers in the last 25 years than at any other point in history, and the number of unevangelised people has dropped from 50% in 1960 to 29% in 2015. However, due to population growth, the actual number of people who have no access to the Gospel is growing daily – we’re actually starting to lose ground!

Likewise, Christians have made up a third of the world’s population for the past 100 years, but where that third is has shifted. In 1960, 19% of evangelicals were from Africa, Asia or Latin America. Today it’s about 78%. And the global number of evangelicals has increased from 3% to 8%.

Global mission has changed from being “the West to the rest” to what’s being called polycentric mission: missionaries are being sent from everywhere to everywhere! This means the world’s cross-cultural mission force is now more diverse than ever – in terms of location, nationality and ethnicity as well as methods and organisations. Perhaps this will involve recognising NZ as not only a ‘sending country’ but also a mission field for missionaries coming from places like Africa and Latin America – we’re in desperate need of outside voices to call us back to God and his mission.

Out of the 200 000 who move into cities every day, 80% end up in slums. Over 1 billion people now live in slums – one out of six people – yet less than one out of 500 missionaries work in slums.

We’ve seen significant decline in global poverty in recent years. Only about 10% of the world live in ‘extreme poverty’ – though that’s 700 million people! And 85% of those living in poverty are located in unevangelised regions.

1.2 million children are victims of human trafficking each year. 80% of trafficked people are women and children, the majority trafficked for the sex trade.

The migration challenges we see today are merely the tip of the ice-berg. Over the next 40 years migration will be the context for much human need and conflict – and for ministry opportunity!

About 81% of the world’s non-Christians don’t personally know a Christian. Even if we can’t all go – and we still need many more people willing to go to the ‘difficult places’ – we can all be involved in the urgent task of praying for God’s world.

We live in an age of unprecedented change, unprecedented complexity and unprecedented uncertainty; the challenges the emerging generations will face will be unlike those ever seen before. But this is also an age of unprecedented opportunity. Let’s make the most of the open doors God has placed before us!

The Next Intermission

Posted on

We’re excited about the next issue of Intermission, the quarterly NZCMS magazine – so much so that we added an extra level of proofing into our quality-control processes (pictured above). Thankfully it passed the test!

A year ago I stumbled across a bookmark from 2008 and I’ve kept it attached to my desk ever since. This little bookmark listed the commitments shared by the NZCMS family, stating “In response to Jesus’ Great Commission and in the fellowship of NZCMS I commit to: keep informed, pray regularly, give generously and go willingly.”

We thought it’s about time we re-explored what it means to belong to this CMS family of mission, and that’s what this next Intermission will be about. Building on this original list (which we suspect goes back as far as the League of Youth days) we’ve identified 5 missional postures that are shared by missional people. We’ll then go through each of these postures one-by-one over the course of next year, dedicating an issue of Intermission to each one. The clear emphasis we’re making is that we are all called by God to be part of his global family of mission.

Here’s our updated list:

We’re all called to Belong We’re all called to Participate We’re all called to Pray We’re all called to Give We’re all called to Go

This a great time to sign up to be receiving Intermission, to invite your friends to sign up, and to consider whether your small group could use this Intermission as a discussion starter. (Or perhaps you could form a new small group that wants to explore what being missional in 21st century New Zealand can look like.) People can sign up to receive Intermission at nzcms.org.nz/mailing-list or by emailing office@nzcms.org.nz.

If you’re planning to use this Intermission as a study guide in your group, we’d love to know about it! We’d also love an indication of how many people are committing with us to live out these missional postures. You can email office@nzcms.org.nz or use our contact form to let us know.

From the Editor (Issue 28)

Posted on

Short-term mission. Though less than 60 years old, it’s become incredibly popular… and notoriously controversial. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on these trips each year, but is that justified? Do they produce any fruit? Do they cause more problems than they solve? Are they actually just a Christianised form of ‘voluntourism,’ a way to have a feel-good experience (often at someone else’s expense)?

In this issue of Intermission we’ll look at some of the inherent problems with the way short-term trips are often done. We’ll then offer some ideas about how you can avoid the pitfalls, creating short-term experiences that have lasting value and which are mutually beneficial for those going and those receiving. It’s essentially a reflective commentary on two biblical themes – our call to go (e.g. Matthew 28:19) and our call to embody the ‘for-others attitude’ of Jesus (e.g. Philippians 2:1-11).

We’ve framed this edition to not only be useful for general discussion groups, but also as a resource for NZCMS ‘Encounter Teams.’ Even so, the principles also apply for mission in our own backyards. So, regardless of whether you’re ‘going’ or ‘staying,’ we hope this will spark good conversation and inspire you to action.

Issue 28 of Intermission looks at the ‘Paradox of Short-Term Missions.’ Occasionally we’ll highlight an article by including it in our weekly Interchange newsletter.

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

Younger Leaders From Over 140 Countries Connected in Jakarta

Posted on

Zane (NZCMS Council) and Jo (Communications) had the privilege of attending a significant gathering of the Lausanne Movement. Below are some excerpts from an August 12 press release from the Lausanne Movement’s website summarising the event. The full article can be read by clicking here.

The Lausanne Movement’s most ‘connected’ gathering, the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, came to a close last night. More than one thousand younger leaders and mentors convened for a week from over 140 countries to connect for global mission, in Jakarta, Indonesia, at the Global Campus of Universitas Pelita Harapan.

The vision for YLG2016 was rooted in the same conviction out of which Billy Graham started the Lausanne Movement, namely to help influencers of global mission, who were often working in isolation, to meet and collaborate. Participants for this gathering have been invited through an extensive, prayerful, regionally based selection process after receiving thousands of nominations. About two thirds of the participants were from the Majority World, and about one third were women.

‘I’ve never seen the mission of the Lausanne Movement—connecting influencers and ideas for global mission—more powerfully displayed than during this amazing week’—says Michael Oh, Lausanne’s Global Executive Director/CEO.

Connections took various forms during the programme, such as the 160+ mentoring groups where participants connected their personal life stories to God’s grand narrative of the world. In addition to regional gatherings and 35 workshops focused on many of the most significant missiological issues set forth in The Cape Town Commitment, there were also hundreds of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings between senior and younger leaders throughout the course of the carefully crafted programme. To emphasize the importance of connecting at YLG2016, the planning team put significant amounts of free time into the week which was key in making space for numerous divine appointments.

Building connections, however, began long before the gathering itself. In perhaps the most ambitious effort in the Lausanne Movement’s history to prepare participants for a gathering, participants had to commit to an entire year of monthly preparation. This included both substantive reflection on the narrative of Scripture around which YLG2016 was focused, and also starting to make individual and national/regional connections long before setting foot in Jakarta.

Throughout the gathering, major challenges for this generation have been tackled: how to proclaim the truth of Christ in a skeptical world, what does it mean to preach the whole gospel and the Lordship of Christ over poverty and the environment, how to respond to different conceptions of human sexuality, the persecuted church, and major challenges facing evangelicalism in the next decades.

‘The gathering has been organized by younger leaders and for younger leaders, most of whom are likely to become the shaping voice of global evangelicalism. But we know we’re not self-sufficient as a generation. I strongly believe that this week has been a defining moment, when our generation consciously stepped into the rich heritage of the Lausanne Movement, looking at God’s mission from a global perspective’—reflects Sarah Breuel, Chair of the YLG2016 Planning Team.

Summarizing his experience at the gathering, Michael Oh reflected: ‘I believe that years later we may look back on this week as an historic gathering where many of the leaders of the global church first connected to one another and were uniquely inspired to lay down their lives in partnership for global mission. Our heart is full of gratitude. To God be the glory!’

 

Thank you to the Lausanne Movement for hosting at the gathering Jo and Zane from the NZCMS family. To see the full article please click here. Personal reflections on the event will be shared by our participants at a later date.

Your Real Christian Life

Featured Video Play Icon
Posted on

Have you ever found yourself thinking like this: that after the next big step you’re real Christian life will start? You’ve had some great one-off experiences, say a short-term mission trip or some amazing conferences. You know there’s so much more to be living for, that there’s a life available in God that is truly amazing. But you just have to get through the next stage – finish your degree, build up capital to buy a house, get married… It’s easy to keep pushing that ‘real Christian life’ into the future as we wait for a time where we’re suddenly change into the people we dream we could be, but that’s just not how following Jesus works! This is it! The life we’re living now will determine how we’re living in 5, 10, 20 years.

In the video above, Bishop Justin Duckworth challenges us to learn to live for God now, rather than waiting for some mystical time when things suddenly fall into place for us.

#NZCMS will be on pause this month while Jon and Kirstin are travelling overseas.

 

#NZCMS is all about exploring what it means to be God’s missional people in today’s world. Sign up for the emailer by filling in your email at the top of the page or join the discussion at the #NZCMS Facebook Group (and turn on ‘all notifications’ to stay in the loop!) 

June’s Missional Movements

Posted on

The Hicks family expect to welcome their new baby on or around June 1. They all travelled on May 11 to the capital, Honiara, for the birth. They will return to their village as soon as the baby is strong enough and Tess feels ready to make the boat crossing.

Peter Akester will be ordained at Kondoa Cathedral alongside 11 others on June 19. Rev Andrew Allan-Johns from Rangiora will lead the preceding retreat.

Katie has finished her Spanish Classes at University and hopes to be transitioning out of full time language learning soon.

Dianne has recovered well from the slipped disc in her back and is now ‘walking like a solider.’

We’re invited to join the World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk (June 4-5). Find out more at http://hk.viva.org/world-weekend-of-prayer.aspx

Phil Sussex is trialling some Saturday evening church-based dental clinics to make dental care accessible for factory workers who work long hours 6 days a week.