community

Community is not the Goal (Issue 30)

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When I think about belonging or community, I always think of my time with a large mission training centre in Australia. For almost four years I journeyed with a group of people who were all deeply passionate about knowing God and making him known. In the midst of all the busyness and excitement, I felt a deep sense of being known as well. These people from a huge variety of backgrounds and cultures and experiences and Christian persuasions – an eclectic mix of people who I would have otherwise never met – became far more than friends.

They were comrades. They were life-lines. They were prayer-partners, safety-nets, the voice of encouragement. They inspired me to go deeper, challenged me to reach higher, pushed me to expand my vision for God’s world. I’d always have someone to process with, to laugh with, to cry with, and I’d be there for them in the same way. It was a space to be ministered to and to learn to minister, to give as much as you received, to bless as much as you were blessed. In one month our relationships were deeper than anything I’d really known before.

It’s not about building community

Maybe I’ve reminded you of a similar experience. Maybe you wish you’d been part of a group like that. Perhaps you’ve been in a similar environment but were burnt by the encounter. In either case, it’s likely a reminder of the longing many of us feel for a deeper, more authentic experience of community and belonging. Ingrained within us is a sense that we’re not supposed to be alone on this journey of faith and life. Yet, though we may have momentary tastes of true community along the way, for many of us it’s not our ongoing reality.

In fact, ‘community’ is a bit of a buzz word. You’ll find it in the vision statement – maybe even in the name – of many churches. Theological books have made community their uniting theme. Counsellors are being trained to think of individuals-within-community. Hundreds of sermons on “Getting back to Acts 2:42-47” have been preached across the country. Many Church leaders have made forming and nurturing a thriving community one of their top priorities.

That’s certainly not a bad thing. The problem is, community doesn’t really happen if it’s your goal. Michael Frost, an Aussie missiologist, says that aiming for community is like aiming for happiness. You can’t aim to find happiness; it’s a by-product of seeking after something else, like love or justice or hospitality. But when you aim for happiness, you’re bound to miss it!

Community vs Communitas

Many of us have looked at the various expressions of community we’ve been part of with the question: “Why’s this so different to what I see in the New Testament?” Jesus invested much of his time forming a community of disciples and presenting them with a new ‘covenant charter’ of how to do life together (e.g. Matthew 5-7). Throughout the New Testament we see communities marked by extravagant love and faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3), by unwavering passion for Jesus (Revelation 3:8), by radical sharing and devotion (Acts 2:42-47), by incredible diversity (Galatians 3:28), by forgiveness and compassion and humility and peace (Colossians 3:12-15). The language describing the church is that of body (1 Corinthians 12:13), temple (3:16), family (Ephesians 2:19), vine (John 15:5), people (1 Peter 2:9), all images which stress that together we are God’s people. In fact, a key theme of Scripture is God’s mission to form a people for his name. Yet this biblical vision for the Christian community seems to stand in stark contrast to the reality we often experience.

So why did I experience all that in Australia? It’s because community wasn’t the focus. We were all there because of a shared passion for God and his mission in the world. It was out of that shared purpose and vision that true community was forged. We were on a shared journey, but it was a journey somewhere.

This is the different between community and communitas. Communitas is community that’s formed in the context of an ordeal, a challenge, a task, a mission. It’s a community that forms for the sake of something beyond itself. Community isn’t seen as an end in itself; it’s the means to an end. A deep sense of love and care and compassion is formed, but it’s as a result of being on a journey together. Perhaps ironically, when you set out to achieve that same sense just for its own sake, the results can feel quite superficial.

The desire we have for community is a legitimate one, but to pursue it for its own sake is a mistake. “We build community incidentally, when our imaginations and energies are captured by a higher, even nobler calling” (Michael Frost). If you set out to build community, you end up with more of a support group. If you set out to form a group on mission together, you end up with communitas.

So when we say that We’re All Called to Belong, we’re not talking about belonging as the goal itself. We’re all called to belong to God’s family of mission.

For discussion

When on your journey have you experienced communitas?

How can a group move from community towards communitas? What steps could your group make?

 

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.

Transformational Community (Issue 30)

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Ruby’s dad finally succumbed to cancer a few Saturdays ago. Her visa for our country was due for renewal just a few days later. So first thing Monday morning, fellow students took her to the visa office, explained the situation about her having to get back to her home country, and encouraged them to quickly renew the visa. In the meantime we also took her to the travel agent who, by 2pm, had booked her on a midnight flight. By 3pm the visa office had come through with an updated visa in record time. By 4pm other students were packing her bags. By 5pm she was on the bus with a fellow student for the 3 hour trip to the airport. On top of all this, they had also raised a serious amount of money to pay for her ticket home and to help with funeral expenses. That’s my definition of a loving, caring community.

My turn came a few days later when I pulled a tendon in my foot. For two weeks now students have been giving me daily massages to speed up the healing. They’ve been washing dishes, going to the market, buying meds, doing household chores, cooking food, doing regular visits. They even helped me get to an important meeting.

Two days before Christmas last year we received a photo from a graduate. He was dressed in a Santa suit (minus the beard), a half decorated Christmas tree standing beside him. He’d started a fellowship like the one he experienced with us, simply because he missed the community here. He told us he was planning to have the fellowship and related friends to his home for Christmas dinner – we were more than a little surprised to hear he was welcoming about 100 people from his newly formed community to the feast! Transformational community is something that grows and spreads.

A worthwhile cost?

Community costs, especially when it comes to time. It’s a cost everyone interested in community needs to take seriously – you simply can’t have transformational community without taking time to invest in that community! And it takes place in the ordinary ‘stuff of life.’ Community gets messy and we need to be ready to help with the seemingly less important things. One example would be teaching some guys simple hygiene – what do you do when you get a number people complaining of itching in various parts of their body and find out their bed sheets haven’t been washed for six months?! Many students also tell us about their ailments first and we have to direct them to the right medical attention. In two cases recently this meant being with the students in the operating theatre while they underwent minor surgery and also taking care of them afterwards.

When people ask us what our model for community is, we simply say the love of God. (What’s the formal model of community demonstrated in Acts 2: 40-47 or John 17:20-23?) When students graduate even the excess clothing they can’t take with them is left for the incoming students. Nothing is hidden; indeed all things are shared in common, especially the Father’s love. The end result is that many lives are transformed for eternity because they have not only discovered the healing power of God but the healing power of godly family. My prayer is that the wave of transformational community that has begun here will ultimately go out and transform the whole world.

For discussion

Have you ever been part of a deep community like this? If so, what was it like and what do you most remember? If not, what would such a community mean to you?

What would a step toward deeper community look like for you?

 

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.

Towards Team-hood? (Issue 30)

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Here’s a little ad I just whipped up:

Cheap avocados. 50c bags of mangos. Hobbit-worthy grass-thatched dome housing. An orange flowering vine winding over the veranda. Living 100% off the grid. It’s the dream! The sun’s energy to charge your laptop and rain to provide water to hand-wash your clothes (which is very idyllic and not at all tedious). Whether you’re a teacher, a change-maker, a business person, a nurse, a mechanic or a theologian, there’s more at stake and more potential here than anything you’ve encountered before. God’s at work and there‘s plenty to do. So come join our little team!

Lately I’ve been thinking about what it would be like here in Gulu, Northern Uganda, if we were part of a mini-team with a shared purpose and common rhythms. My husband, Nick, and I have lived here now for over three years. Determined to connect locally, we dedicated our first five months to language learning and joined the closest Anglican church. We spent time sitting and listening. For our first year we stubbornly turned down invitations from other ‘non-nationals’ to socialize. After all, we came to befriend Ugandans, not Australians, right?

Around a year in, we found we deeply missed culturally-familiar conversations with similarly educated people and fellow Christians who were willing to pursue us, hold us accountable and challenge us. We sheepishly called the Australians back. Why couldn’t we find this amongst our many local friends, who we deeply love and respect? It’s a hard question to answer, but despite being surrounded by many caring local neighbours, we’ve often felt isolated, lonely and overwhelmed by the seemingly endless need around us and the challenges and frustrations of our work.

A month ago I sat in Gulu’s dusty, bustling bus park, carefully scanning the rows of passengers on each bus that swung in. Right on time, our friend emerged with his glorious kiwi-accent, wearing a marmite laden tramping pack. My sister arrived a week later, and another friend just in time for Christmas. Now, with five of us living in our little hut, we have a glimpse at what team-hood might be like here.

Since they’ve arrived I’ve been thinking even more about why doing life and mission as a team makes a lot of sense. Here’s my top five:

1. Becoming more available to neighbours

This Saturday morning our neighbour Lucy popped round to charge her phone with our solar and bring us a papaya from her tree. Our friend Opiyo dropped by to process some bad news: his carpentry teacher was killed in a car crash. After lunch a band of four kids arrived ready to read their story-books, answer a quiz on the content and exchange it for a new one. We want to be available to our neighbours, and we want to be part of our community. But with just the two of us, we can’t always handle so many visitors. Since our three friends arrived, if I have my hands full cooking dinner, or I’ve had a rough day, we don’t have to turn the kids away. There’s usually someone there with the energy to make someone welcome.

2. Life logistics

Without running water, washing machines, a stove top or a fridge, life takes a bit longer. Division of labour is not an overrated concept. We take turns cooking, and it’s just way more efficient. My sister and I wash the clothes, and the boys fetch the water from the borehole with a wheelbarrow. We all get to avoid our least favourite tasks!

3. Greater scope for creative re-charge time

Before we arrived in Uganda, Nick and I never, ever watched TV series. I’m too embarrassed to confess how many I’m now familiar with. As excellent as my personal favourites ‘the Wire’ and ‘the West Wing’ may be, we’ve definitely over-dosed. A combination of factors led to this trend. Often we’ve felt so exhausted by the work day, community interaction and domestic tasks to find the energy to do much else. Local friends don’t like to move around after dark so there are limited social opportunities. Since our visitors arrived, bringing with them new energy and creativity, we’ve spent more time singing, running, playing games and discussing life over long meals outside. Some forms of relaxing are just better for the soul.

4. Spiritual discipline

There’s this bit in Romans which reads: “I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another” (The Message, 7:15). I know I’m not healthy if I don’t regularly take time out to be quiet and listen to God. Yet I too frequently lack discipline to actually do it! I’d love to try group spiritual rhythms and times for prayer, whether it was something collective or an individual thing we all do at the same time. Other people can help us commit to ways of life that we’ve decided we want.

5. Common vision for a common location

A month ago I was part of a disastrous meeting. It felt like our community organizing group was irretrievably falling apart at the seams. I was low, confused. I came home to our temporary team. They were a sounding board, giving me perspective and hope. And sometimes, discussions lead to new ideas altogether. The other day my sister and I were thinking about what the early seeds of an organic woman’s rights movement would look like in Gulu, and we discussed the idea of starting a woman’s dance and discussion group. There’s something special about living with people with common visions for a common location. Frustrations get aired and discussed. Challenges collectively pondered. New creative ideas emerge.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking lately. It’s been a great, tumultuous, inspiring three years by ourselves. But there might be a whole other way of doing things round the bend. I’m sure it won’t be all rosy tinted, I’m sure living in a team would bring its own conflicts and challenges. But I’d love to try. And in case you’re wondering, I’m entirely serious about my opening ad. Get in touch.

Tessa & Nick are NZCMS Mission Partners in Uganda. Tessa heads up a Community Organising group that tackles various social issues in the broader community. For more from the Laings visit ugandapanda.com

For discussion

In what ways do you feel lonely, isolated and overwhelmed?

How could Tessa’s top five apply to your context? What points would you add to your list?

 

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.

Tethered to Christ, Tethered to Each Other (Issue 30)

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By Scottie Reeves

In Jesus we see this most powerful picture of inclusion. This man of immense integrity, character and holiness is always inviting those to the table we would never expect. The prostitutes, the thieves, the loan sharks and the violent extremists. At Christ’s table there’s room for Trump, room for refugees, room for beneficiaries and room for billionaires. There is room for you and room for me.

This is the reckless hospitality of Christ that whips up some more wine for a room full of wedding guests who were likely already inebriated. It’s the outrageousness that kneels down and washes the dusty feet of his disciples. It’s the controversy of a saviour who looks over the crowd immediately in front of him to call the short swindler down from a sycamore tree to eat with him.

In my experience of leading Blueprint, a church community of Millennials in the liberal heartland of Wellington City, I can tell you that my generation loves this radically welcoming Christ. He sits well alongside our near-religious fervour for tolerance at all costs. Our Jesus is shaped by a culture which says daily, ‘how dare you judge me!’ Yet we also follow a Christ who said in Matthew 16 that people weren’t really his disciples unless they left behind their families and began to carry their own instruments of death too. To sit at a table with Jesus was one thing, but to truly follow him meant abandoning family, reputation, career and security. Christ is consistently welcoming, but there is something quite exclusive about the way of Jesus too.

BELONGING AND COMMITMENT

When we talk about what it is to belong we must remember that our sense of belonging will always be equal to our commitment to one another. We belong truly with those who are tethered to us and whom we have tethered ourselves to. So while inclusive hospitality is deeply important, this alone will not build belonging or a dedicated community of disciples. Faith communities that provide constant encouragement and inclusion without a call to look beyond themselves will inevitably create consumers instead of disciples.

Alongside Blueprint’s usual Sunday services we run several community homes of hospitality filled with young adults. My wife Anna and I live in one of these houses on upper Cuba Street with five other young change-makers. Every Tuesday we hold a meal for anyone in Central Wellington who wants to join us. This is an experience of inclusive hospitality where anyone and everyone is welcome, from university students to those in the grip of addictions, from young professionals to those sleeping on the streets. Our guests describe this as a place of love, care, warmth and manaakitanga. There’s something special and profoundly Kingdom-of-God that happens around that enormous table each Tuesday night.

Yet what our guests don’t know is that the power of that hospitality comes from the fact that the seven hosts belong deeply together.

We’ve made unbreakable commitments such as daily prayer, proactive conflict resolution, mission to our neighbourhood and honesty with one another. Everyone is committed to being in our house for at least a year, and some of us are entering our third. When you know you’re still going to be living with someone in a few years it starts to seem silly to avoid the hard conversations.

KNOWN BY OUR LOVE

Jesus said that the world would know we belonged with him “by the love we have for one another” (John 13:35). Love doesn’t just grow in church services or life groups. It grows when we’re committed to one another, when we resolve to belong together even when we’re not sure we necessarily like each other anymore. The power of our dinner table is formed the other six days of the week in a community of people who have done the hard work to love one another sacrificially.

Sadly, if the commitments of our faith communities to one another aren’t deep then our inclusive hospitality is normally severely lacking too. We’re drawn in by the hospitality of God, but we’re formed by commitment to the community of faith we now belong in. As Christians we’re called to become a ‘set apart’ people (1 Peter 2:9), an exclusive people with exclusive commitments to one another and ways of living that stand as stark alternatives to the mindless consumption of the world around us. We are exclusively Christ’s, in order that we may be formed into a radically inclusive people whose dinner tables are always bulging, whose spare rooms are always full and who live out costly empathy, compassion, care and hospitality for all people.

And here’s the really interesting thing. As we’ve begun to pursue this deeper and ‘more exclusive’ way together over the past few years, we’ve seen more people come to know Christ for the first time than ever before. Maybe it is as Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Scottie and his wife head up Blueprint Church in Wellington. He’s an ordained Deacon in the Anglican Church, a Social Entrepreneur, and has previously worked with a nationwide creative arts trust.

For discussion

In what ways does Scottie’s example of the Blueprint house encourage and challenge you?

What would holding together high commitment and high belonging look like in your context?

 

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 Belong (Issue 30)

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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 Participate (Issue 29)

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Only about 10% of Kiwis go to church, and that number hasn’t changed in decades! The average church sees only about two (or less) people come to faith each year, and that’s while many others walk away from the faith. And importantly, up to 80% of Kiwis are beyond the reach of a Gospel witness – either they don’t know a committed Jesus-follower or their Christian friends haven’t shared the Gospel with them.

Why’s it like this? God doesn’t want anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) – so it’s not because God doesn’t want people to know him. Perhaps the problem is closer to home – people can’t believe if they haven’t been told (Romans 10:14), and sharing isn’t just the role of ‘professional Christians.’ We’re all called to be ambassadors for God, yet maybe many of us think we’re the exception. But we’re all called to participate – God wants an army of ambassadors, not just a few Generals.

EVERYONE GETS TO PLAY It’s easy to see things as ‘us’ and ‘them.’ The professional preacher and us normals. The gifted leader and those who are led. The ‘missionary’ and the ‘supporters’ back home. ‘They’ are the ones with the calling; we’re here to watch or help out. But we all have a role to play, each and everyone one of us. Some roles may seem dramatic and exciting, others may seem small and insignificant, but every follower of Jesus has a place – think of 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. And importantly, from God’s perspective, no role is more important.

Think about that. The missionary in China or Abu Dhabi is just as important in God’s mission as the little-ol’-lady who enables community by serving tea after church. If they’re both doing what God’s called them to, if they’re contributing what they’re capable, then God values it equally! So let’s not act as if some of us are ‘more important’ than others.

“All God’s kids get to play.” John Wimber built a movement on this principle: ministry and mission is something for us all, not just the ‘professionals.’ And it’s important to stress that we get to, not have to. Too often appeals to get involved are all about turning up the pressure. We’re made to feel guilty that we don’t preach to our neighbours, that we don’t volunteer at a soup kitchen, that we don’t feel called to travel overseas.

But God isn’t so much pressuring us to do more, but is inviting us to be involved in something life-transforming. It’ll take us closer to God, unite us in our communities, give us meaning and purpose, not to mention the eternal rewards we’ll reap (Matthew 25:20-23, 31-40). No one is excluded from the fun and joy of mission, even if it may be challenging.

God is welcoming us all to participate, not with a stern look of frustration at how little we’ve done, but with the hopeful excitement of a loving Father who’s delighted to share his greatest joy and passion with his kids!

AN ILLUSTRATION What’s it look like when everyone’s following their call to participate? Perhaps each person simply feels equipped and ready to live missionally in their local contexts: their workplace, school, family, neighbourhood. But sometimes it means finding ways to participate together. After all, mission happens best in community.

Our church has been putting this into action with a ‘church open day.’ One Sunday a year, the seats are cleared out and replaced with bouncy castles, candyfloss machines, a sausage sizzle, face-painting stations, manicure tables, ministry promo stalls. People from the community venture in – it’s less threatening and more inviting than a typical church service. Maybe they’ll stop and listen to someone sharing a testimony from the front. Maybe they’ll get into a deep conversation with a church member. Maybe they’ll join a programme our church offers. Maybe they’ll just grab a coffee and then disappear – but even so, our prayer is their view of ‘church’ and ‘Christians’ is softening.

Why are these powerful events? Community creates synergy. You didn’t have to be the gifted Gospel preacher or the one sharing a testimony. Regardless of your gifting and strengths, you have a role. Everyone is essential, the preacher as much as the one keeping the toilets clean! It’s the combined effort, not the work of any key player, that created a platform for us to engage our neighbourhood.

Sometimes we get to all participate together like this, the synergy of our efforts accomplishing more than we could alone. And sometimes being called to participate is about remembering that God’s invitation to engage in mission is always open to us whenever and wherever we are. Missional engagement is possible for each and every one of us.

We’re all invited to participate with God in what he’s doing, wherever we are!

 

For discussion Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 together. How does this passage speak to our equal invitation to participate in God’s mission?

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 participating?

We’re All Called to Belong (Issue 29)

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By Paul Thaxter (CMS UK).

The Church Mission Society emerged from an informal mission community, the so called Clapham Sect. This group of people met together, ate and prayed together, and were in and out of each other’s homes. It was energetic group of diverse, influential leaders being shaped by God’s mission in Christ. Led by the Spirit they set up CMS to work for social and moral reform in the UK, to spread the Gospel in Africa and Asia, and to abolish the slave trade.

Since those early day over 10000 people have crossed cultures and continents to share the Good News of Jesus through CMS. Importantly, they’ve been supported not simply by the CMS organisation but by the wider CMS community. In fact, for many to join CMS isn’t just a membership commitment but rather a welcome into a mission family that understands and values them and sees mission as much bigger than any human enterprise. That’s why I’m delighted by a renewed CMS emphasis on regular people putting the call into action wherever they made be.

REIMAGINING BELONGING

The development of new creative Christian communities is vital in the West for the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel. As CMS began to encourage emerging church movements and pioneers working in the UK, we realised we needed to re-imagine and re-define what membership of CMS means. We were keen to continue to encourage all followers of Jesus to play an active role in mission both locally and globally. As we became an acknowledged community by the Church of England, CMS UK has been recognised as being a community that encourages the wider church into mission.

We wanted to renew the idea that membership in CMS means participating, praying and learning in God’s mission together – and by doing these things we grow as a true community with a contemporary purpose. Developing a missional lifestyle is key to our community and our discipleship. Whilst many of our older members radiate this practice, newer members are attracted by the offer of belonging to such an intentional mission community with a global as well as a local outlook.

ALWAYS BEST IN COMMUNITY

Community is the enabler of mission. When we’re talking about the ‘belong’ of mission, we’re not just talking about belonging to a nice social club. Mission always happens best in community. Think of the early church in Acts. Sure, there were some key leaders who played important roles, but when 3000 people came to faith, they were “added to their number” – they were welcomed into a community. And in many cases today, people come to faith and experience the richness of God’s Kingdom by being accepted within a community – oftentimes, ‘belonging’ actually happens before people come to believe in Jesus. Without a community to welcome people into, mission doesn’t happen.

Community is also the context of mission. Too often we desire to be more missional, but we can feel alone in it – honestly, it can be pretty crippling. Going out and finding ways to engage your neighbourhood by yourself can be discouraging and difficult. If it all rests of your shoulders, it often amounts to little. Mission happens best when a group of people – a ‘missional community’ if you will – has decided that together they’ll reach out to a particular location or group of people. Synergy is created by engaging together. My weaknesses are overcome by your strengths and vice versa. By working together, we can do significantly more than if each of us went about it alone. How sad is it, then, that many who are passionate about mission in our backyards feel so alone and isolated in it!

So let’s remember, we’re all called to belong to God’s family of mission.

Paul is the Director of International Mission for CMS UK. He’s previously worked as an economist, a church planter and helped lead a drug rehabilitation project in South Asia.

 

For discussion

What difference does (or would) belonging to a mission-focused community 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 belonging?

You can’t do it alone

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I’m sure you’ll agree God has called us to make a real difference in the world. And if you’re been sitting in that space for a while, you’ll have realised that changing the world often starts with being transformed ourselves. Like the bumper-sticker says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Change agents are those who don’t just do a whole heap of stuff, but who have come to embody values that set them apart and drive them to really make a difference. It’s pretty difficult to be both missional and selfish, or greedy, or lazy, or constantly grumpy, or judgemental, or controlling, or gossipy. …

The thing is, many of us put pressure on ourselves to change. … and beat ourselves up when we don’t! Maybe this is partly because we’ve been taught somewhere along the way that we can make self-change happen. We just need the will to change. There’s truth in that, but real change almost always happens in community. It’s belonging to a group that share common values that will help us develop and keep those values.

Bishop Justin Duckworth spoke at the NZCMS Cultivate conference in 2014. In this video he talks about our need for community.