One of the blessings of my role at Tabor is getting out of Adelaide and engaging with mission-minded leaders elsewhere in Australia and overseas. Recently, I attended Mission Interlink’s ConNEXTion conference in Sydney. Missions Interlink, an organization I have been associated with since 1991, is the peak body for global mission agencies in Australia. The theme in the plenary sessions and 24 workshops was strategy and spirituality in the global mission arena from the perspectives of the Scriptures, godly practitioners and formal missiological research.
Some of the key ideas and reflections are worth sharing to maximize the impact of the gathering. Here are four takeaways that have relevance for the missions industry and for churches at the local and denominational levels. Much is being learnt about encouraging God’s people into mission that integrates strategy and spirituality. Click here for a link to the Missions Interlink website where further information can be found.
Number 1 – Diversity in Making Missional Decisions
Eddie Arthur from Global Connections in the UK was the keynote speaker. He gave three excellent Bible-focused presentations on the following theme: In the footsteps of the Spirit: Rethinking Mission Strategy from Acts of the Apostles. He explored key missional figures in the growth of the early church in the Gentile world (Philip, Barnabas and Paul) and how they approached strategy in response to persecution, new contexts, the direction of the Holy Spirit, the need to monitor and support the growth of the church in new geographic locations, and listening to God’s people.
Number 2 – Imagery for Mobilizing for Global Mission
A forthcoming book from WEA Missions Commission on mobilizing for mission entitled Mission in Motion by Malcolm Gold and Jay Matenga calls the global church to fan the flame so God can thrust out workers into the harvest. They have identified four interacting ideal types for mobilization (pragmatic, educational, formulaic and relational) and use fire as a metaphor to explore the key accelerants (influential relationships and education), retardants (funding mission agency, sending context, spiritual opposition and gender), and ignition for global and local mission.
Number 3 – Theologize or Mobilize?
Over the past 40 years the evangelical mission community has created specific compelling narratives and constructs to aid the mobilization for global mission such as Unreached People Groups, Homogenous Unit Principle and the 10/40 Window. Darrell Jackson challenged us to evaluate these stories, to address the blind spots they create, and to contemplate and validate other strategies and compelling narratives for mobilisation, thereby encouraging healthy contextual innovation.
Number 4 – Challenges Facing the Australian Church in Regards to Global Mission
The Australian data from NCLS reveals that clear challenges exist for global mission agencies. The aging nature of the financial supporters of agencies, the strong focus on social action type activities rather than evangelistic and church planting type activities, and the declining presence of younger generations will put pressure on agencies in the next decade. Tackling and engaging these national trends will be vital for churches and agencies to minimize their potential impact.
These four takeaways provide challenges. If you want to converse with me further about them, then don’t hesitate to contact me at Tabor as I am willing to pray and explore innovation and creative responses.