In recent weeks, I have been in Australia meeting with leaders in a particular denomination. Shortly after my return I was speaking at the Christian Leaders Forum in Poland where I met with a wide range of leaders from many European nations.
These were very contrasting situations and yet the underlying reality was a determination by Christian leaders to take mission seriously. This change in perspective is shared very widely all across the western world. However, that does not mean that all Christian leaders are successful in incorporating the changes that are necessary to embed mission in the core DNA of their denominations (or networks as we sometimes call denominations today).
Instead, I often hear Christian leaders thinking of mission in terms of programmes, initiatives, vision statements and possibly church planting initiatives of one kind or another. Few imagine that mission means to re-think everything. Mission cannot be kept isolated as a programme or at the periphery of the life of our denominations – the private concern of a committed few.
To take mission seriously in our present western context means at least the following:
- To re-examine leadership in terms of gifting, calling and training.
- To reconnect church with the local in terms of creative conversation.
- To discover that mission is more related to our connection with the rest of the world and not just ways to improve the church.
- To resist the notion that we need somehow to “fix” the church in order to do mission.
Understanding these realities may still be the perception of a minority of leaders but thankfully, it seems to be a strongly growing minority.