Not trying to do everything!
In June 2014 our Above Bar Church World Mission Strategy Group (WMSG) embarked on a journey of prayerful reflection that has led us to some fresh convictions about the place of Above Bar Church in global mission. We pray that the following 5 Drivers, 2 Principles & 3 Streams will help give a new impetus to our mission sending as a church – with a renewed global focus.
God’s resources are unlimited – ours are not! This calls for the churches to be good stewards of the gifts he has given and attentive to his particular leading (Rev 3:22). Jesus was certain of what the Father was asking of him – it led him to say yes to certain things and no to others (Luke 9:51). When God calls a person into mission we may be sure that the church also hears that calling (Acts 13:1-3). And so it is with the conviction that it is the task of the local church to discern the Lord’s leading, and identify and send individuals, that we offer this paper.
(I) Five Drivers for the New Focus
What does the new focus do?
• It provides a clearer focus for our ongoing prayers
• It helps us orientate or re-orientate new and existing mission partners as they approach us regarding future work
• It helps us to be clear and proactive in communicating mission priorities with the church
• It helps us to be proactive and vision led as we prayerfully approach those we believe the Lord may be leading into vocational mission work
• It gives a clear sense of direction as we wait patiently on the Lord’s provision and timing
(II) Two Guiding Principles & 3 Streams of Mission to Encourage
We assume that the vision of Above Bar Church (to glorify God by seeking to make and mature disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that in everything he might have the supremacy) and our ABC values (mission focussed, bible-centred, God-dependent, authentic community) are ‘owned by’ all those we send into mission. If ‘Loving God, following Jesus and sharing hope’ sums up who we perceive ourselves to be, then this paper speaks to the outworking of that vision through global mission.
So, then, what types of mission involvement will we especially promote and encourage through ABC?
Two Guiding Principles – Integral Mission & Humility
We are convinced that God’s mission moves forward with mission partners from all nations to all nations, involved in the vast breadth of human activity that works towards fulfilling God’s redemptive intentions for his creation. We believe that mission moves forward in word and action, with words having social consequences and actions having evangelistic consequences. At ABC we will therefore aim to promote overseas holistic engagements of a strategically crucial nature (i.e. not doing what a local/national could do). Our heart is for all ABC Mission Partners and Short Term Teams and Projects to seek to work integrally/holistically, whatever their specific calling and gifting.
Mission is as subject to change as anything else, and as members of the Western Church we affirm with much joy that ‘mission is from all nations to all nations’, rather than ‘from the West to the rest.’ New global partnerships are called for, both locally and globally, as we take our place in humility alongside (not over) others in God’s mission, giving and receiving blessing from the global church.
Three Streams of Mission to Encourage
1. ‘Church planting/building’ in Continental Europe
We sense the Lord’s hand guiding us to playing a more intentional part in the reaching of an increasingly secularised and polarised Europe. We will therefore encourage those whom the Lord is calling from ABC to plant and strengthen churches in Continental Europe, and work towards building closer links with those churches.
2. ‘Evangelism among unreached people groups’, particularly those outside Europe
We believe we should we be heeding the ‘silent global Macedonian call’ of those who have never heard the Gospel. Outside of Europe we will focus on either attempting to reach the unreached or equipping others to do so – through ministries such as evangelism, church planting and Bible translation. We would particularly warm to sending those willing to serve in Muslim majority countries. We recognise the day may come when we encourage the formation of a team from ABC to work mid to long term in an unreached area/group. We encourage those who work in unreached areas or groups to cooperate wherever possible with local churches and groups, where they exist.
3. ‘Training and equipping’ for strategic ministries overseas
Mission and Ministry training, Church-planting training, Discipleship training, Training for various professional kinds of ‘secular’ work – all these can play a strategically important role in mission. In this regard we would especially be open to those seeking to minister to the global South (as the new mission-sending countries), but additionally to those working in Europe and in unreached parts of the world. We encourage our Mission Partners and Projects to honour and support the local church wherever it can.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on all this!