Mission and Evangelism.
Having been involved in many aspects of mission and evangelism for twenty eight years I have seen many initiatives come and go. My preferred combination is one of personal lifestyle witness and corporate (both local and national church initiatives).
The gospel I share with people is first and foremost modelled by my life. I am the message as this is the first thing many people see. I endeavour to be Christ to everyone I meet, and I always look for God in them. I find that this enables mutual friendship and often leads to ongoing conversations. I believe that Christ died for us and rose again; giving us the opportunity to share with Him in His life and that by his Holy Spirit he is ever present help to us, this is a process we are in and not an event.
Hopefully my life story to date shows that my faith in Christ is real and that without Him I would not be here or more importantly be sustained by Him. My encounters with the risen Christ are the major driving force in my outlook towards mission and evangelism.
Proclaiming this message needs to be done in varying degrees and guises as not one size fits all. This is the uniqueness we have in the gospel; God meets us where we are at, this incarnate Love of God has more power than we realize, the joy we see when this is in action is unsurpassable.
The gospel message that the local and national church shares should mirror that of the Transformation that occurs within our lives and should embrace a Missional mind set. I like the phrase Transformissional , this embraces both concepts of the gospel message and allowing the message of God change our lives causes a centrifugal force that sends us out missionally into the communities we live and work in.
Although the word Transformissional sounds so vogue really it’s a re-working of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission .
I take the view that church whatever shape or size or context should embrace a simple model that gives Clarity, Movement, Alignment and Focus . People are hungry for simple because the post-modern world we live in has become so complex and peoples live their lives on information overload, being able to interact with the world in an instant. These words should be the filter we look through when we consider our message, lifestyle and fellowship, our mission and evangelism.
• Clarity – is it clear that God is at work within us?
• Movement - Are we moving towards Christ?
• Alignment - Is what we do aligned within the scriptures?
• Focus - Has God got all our focus/attention?
This frees us from a defensive posture and enables us to serve one another, which is attractive to others. It enables people to become who they are meant to be in Christ instead of just trying to keep the lights on and a few leadership positions filled.
My preference is that we should embrace a mixed economy with regard to traditional, fresh expressions, communities of interest and church planting, within the local context of parish ministry and at diocese level, having a clear and positive agenda is paramount; and I admire the five values of a missionary church as mapped out in “Mission Shaped Church” 2nd edition 2009 . This report helps us to map out the simple church model as previously described. A continuation on and working out from this is the paradigm of “go to them” instead of “come to us”; this is a relational model which has long lasting effects within the communities where it has been pioneered.
This relational model starts with Community which finds its own ‘Missio dei’ (Mission from God) which leads to Worship .
Mission and Evangelism like Church will never be easy, its messy and difficult and we need to acknowledge this but the structures we employ can be simple and how we flow, move within it from one to another should be simple, therefore simple is challenging but also rewarding if we are prepared to make it less complicated.
The vision of the Church in its collective mission should encompass territory, neighbourhood and network . Working in all three areas should promote a healthy and balanced view to the communities we live in.
• Territory - parish system
• Neighbourhood - attention to population movements involving cross boundary working.
• Networks - formed by socially and culturally not by physical area.
At this moment we are living in a Liminal Space , betwixt two worlds and we have a tendency to flip from one to another, one author calls the age we live in The Great Emergence . We are then at the crossroads of time and we need clear and effective strategies and the appropriate people with a skill set able to may a way forward in the time and place where we live. The statistics we currently have only serve to back this thought up, we have roughly;
• 40% De – churched: (20% closed de-churched & 20% open de-churched)
• 40% Non – churched
• 10% Regular attendees
• 10% Fringe
Therefore this gives clear evidence that a mixed mode of mission and evangelism should be deployed to ensure maximum effectiveness. I do take the positive stance that we can do it rather than allowing the figures to overwhelm us and cause us to freeze at the size of the task at hand.
What do you think,? has anything I've said cause you to agree or disagree, I would love to begin the conversation.