Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only…
Partnership is as old as apostleship. But for the UK evangelical church in mission it can still feel rather new. At least the kind of partnership and reciprocity that Sherron Kay George is suggesting as the right way forward in mission. And as I said in my last posting, I think she’s really onto something:
1. Congregations engage in local mission with awareness of the global community near and far.
2. Congregations participate in God’s universal mission around the world in partnership with the global church.
3. Congregations receive locally the global community from near and far as God’s missionary agents.
4. Congregations experience the global church’s international messages, values and practices for their nurture and transformation.
I think that UK churches are currently waking up to #2, but in the early stages of it. The biggest challenge will be to realise we are equal partners with others and not the chiefs, as we can still so often feel even if we don’t say it any more. This will be a challenge for us at ABC as we explore new partnerships with churches in India and Haiti in the coming months.
#1… We experience a bit of this in our ABC international group as internationals often play a key part in the life and success of the group. But we could definitely do more here. I think that relationships with the ‘nearby global community’ could unlock a treasure store of missional opportunites.
Then there’s #3! UK Church, what humility this is going to require of us. What wisdom and mature thinking. What flexibility and willingness to make room for the ministry of others – to us and alongside us and even without us.
#4… Revolution! How rich we’ll be when we can embrace the global church’s international messages, values and practices for our nurture and transformation. We may think we already do that, but how much of what we access through the internet is Western rather than truly global?
So how can we access this treasure store of Christ’s global revelation and blessing of/to his church? And where are the churches who are sure to include regular input from global evangelical leaders and preachers? Here at ABC we’re aware of this question. Last year we enjoyed the ministry of UK-based Zambian Minister Joe Kapolyo; and this year we’re looking forward to hosting a Haitian preacher, in just a few weeks time.
This past Sunday evening at Above Bar Church was a special blessing to many, with 9 or 10 internationals coming to the front to sing How great is our God in their mother tongues.
But there’s a long way to go before the kind of giving and receiving Kay is talking about…