Missions Interlink is the Australian hub for Global Mission, representing 155 mission agencies, churches, and training colleges across Australia. They held their National conference on July 26 -28. The venue was City Life Church Wantirna South, where around 90 participants from various ministries attended.
The two guest speakers were Andrew Scott, the national director of OM in the USA and Dr Jay Matenga from New Zealand and Jonathan Thisen, from OM Canada. The theme of the conference was, “New times call for New Ways”.
Andrew opened with the statement, “we certainly can’t keep functioning as if nothing has happened, not if we want to remain effective, or even remain at all.” He then presented statistics which reflected the changing world and boldly declared that World Missions needs to change the paradigm used by the sending organisations.
Quoting Steve Moore, Former CEO of Mission Nexus. “The models that served us well for the last 150 years is not keeping pace in a fast-changing world.” 80% of the world’s population live where missionary activity is illegal.
He says, 75% of the world will be living in cities by 2030. Urban centres will double in size by 2050.
75% of the church will be from the majority world. Andrew took the audience back to the one person whose views moulded the mindset of Christians for the past 1500 years. Christ Followers were presented with a model that ministry and missions was only intended for the religious elite and not the common working class. The man’s name was Eusebius.
He stated, “The perfect life is spiritual, dedicated to contemplation and reserved for priests, monks, and nuns—the permitted life is secular, such tasks as soldiering, governing, farming, trading, and raising families”. “This means that the secular sacred divide leads us to believe that really holy people become missionaries, moderately holy people become pastors, and people who are not much used to God get a job.”
At The Lausanne Manila Gathering in 2019, theologians “named this secular sacred divide as the major obstacle to the mobilisation of all God’s people in the mission of God, and they called upon Christians worldwide to reject its nonbiblical assumptions and resist its damaging effect”.
To illustrate this, Andrew referred to how the Filipino maids have done more for the spread of the Gospel than all the missionaries combined in the Middle East. These ladies served in homes, spoke to wives, cared for children, and modelled the Gospel in their daily activities, which became the catalyst for conversations within the household.
Another illustration was that of a nurse that applied to a mission organisation working in the Middle East with the desire to partner with them but was turned down. However, she went nevertheless and was employed in a hospital. This meant that she was supplied with accommodation and a salary and mixed with the rest of the hospital staff, which created the opportunities to be invited into the homes of fellow workers, nurses, doctors, administrators, and servants.
This opened the opportunity to build friendships and created a pathway for sharing her faith. In comparison, other missionaries were constantly praying that God would open the doors to the homes within their communities. “This is not about thinking up different models of doing mission. This is about thinking of mission differently.”
Andrew then focused on the professional needs within the world: — “54% of companies around the globe cannot find the talent they need. This percentage has increased steadily for the past 12 years, yet 8 in 10 millennials expect to take their job internationally.”
So, Missions need to go back to first-century practices to answer twenty-first Century failings. 80% of the church’s growth in the first 300 years was the result of ordinary Christians.”
Andrew quoted from God’s Word in Acts 8:1,4., reading to the group, “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria… Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”
He also quoted Cape Town convention 2010, “When we relegate work (which God ordained before the fall) to the secular realm, we cede territory that is squarely part of God’s Kingdom design. The separation has profound consequences. In fact, from my biblical vantage point, what we commonly referred to as ministry is no more sacred than business. God is the author and designer of all of life. This means that reflecting God’s image in our business activity is indeed a sacred calling and one worthy of a lifetime of intentional effort”.
Dr Jay Matenga said that the future of missions is with the Indigenous rather than the ex-pats. “Expatriates need to accept the self-determination rights of the local believers to be guardians of the gospel for themselves.” “The imposition of a Eurocentric theological consensus can feel like a straight jacket, stifling indigenous spirituality.”
Andrew’s concluding thought-provoking questions were: “What if what we call mission is simply a way of life, living as designed by our creator and following Jesus in the places of everyday life? What if our vocation-the unique ways we are shaped to love God and to serve God, is the way we image God best?”
“What if mission was about living this way of life in every place, especially those places where Jesus is less known? What would it take for every Christ follower to engage?”
Delegates came away asking great questions, particularly when the West is engaged in global mission;
- How does that impact the people we go to?
- Who do we send and seek to mobilise?
- What training do we need to focus on equipping candidates?
- Knowing that candidates are employed and salaried, how do we use our freed-up resources to support them in the Gospel?
- Written by Al Watson for New Life Aus, 30 July 2022, (ed., by email@example.com)