When someone mentions the word ‘mission’ to you, where do you think of?
Perhaps it’s some far-flung, exotic location such as Thailand, Nepal or Kenya?
or maybe it’s the foodbank in your local church halls?
or maybe it’s a camp that you’ve been on or have led elsewhere in Ireland?
But why does it have to be home ‘OR’ away? Should it not be home ‘AND’ away? After all, when Jesus commissions His disciples in Acts 1: 8 to participate in His mission, He doesn’t say, ‘You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem OR in Judea OR Samaria OR to the ends of the earth.’ No, he says, ‘You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem AND in all Judea AND Samaria AND to the ends of the earth.’ (Capitals mine!)
How, though, have we found ourselves in this place where mission tends to be either ‘here OR there’, instead of ‘here AND there’?
The reality is that for years, because we lived in a so-called ‘Christian country’, mission has been associated with what we funded or sent people to engage in overseas. In more recent years, though, the pendulum has swung the other direction and, with a growing recognition of the church’s call to be an agent of transformation in the places God has put us, local mission is now seen by many as being ‘more important’. The recent focus on migrants coming to our shores has also contributed to and fuelled this thinking.
To paraphrase comments I hear in my role as Mission Development Officer, ‘Why do we need to be involved in mission overseas when there are already plenty of spiritually, emotionally and materially poor amongst us in Ireland?’ and ‘Surely we don’t need to be involved in mission overseas when the world is coming to us?’
To respond to this – and to encourage all of us to keep a ‘GLOCAL’ view of mission in mind – let me take you back to the Book of Acts and the events that unfolded after Jesus commissioned His disciples to be His witnesses.
On the day of Pentecost, the world had gathered in Jerusalem and the disciples preached the good news of the gospel to them. In the following chapters, though, we also read of the church spreading out and sharing the gospel wherever they went. Even back then, however, the church didn’t always get it right. Indeed, it took a period of persecution for the church to really begin to scatter and, later, Paul writes to the church in Philippi lamenting the fact that they were the only local church still supporting the wider global mission that he was engaged in.
The fact that the early church needed to keep being envisioned and equipped for the mission that God called it to be engaged in, reminds us that we too need to be encouraged and equipped to keep our vision ‘GLOCAL.’
With that in mind, here are a few events that are coming up that I trust will do just that …
World Class – Teaching Opportunities in Global Mission
Thursday, 2nd February 2017
Explore how you might use your teaching skills to build God’s Kingdom overseas at this evening event being organised by the Mission Agencies Partnership (www.mapmission.org), an umbrella group of 50 mission bodies in Northern Ireland, which PCI is a member of. For more information, visit here.
Church in Hard Places Workshop
Friday, 3rd February 2017
Mez McConnell from Scotland’s 20Schemes ministry (‘Gospel Churches for Scotland’s Poorest’) will lead this workshop in Hamilton Road Baptist Church, Bangor. For more information check out visit their website here.
Prepared to Go: From the End of the Pew to the Ends of the Earth?! Saturday, 8th April 2017
‘Prepared to Go?!’ is being expanded this year to provide training and advice for those involved in cross-cultural mission locally as well as for teams and individuals taking part in short-term overseas mission trips during 2017. You will find more information and downloadable booking forms here.
Global Outreach Day
Saturday, 27th May 2017
Imagine thousands of Christians across Ireland on one day sharing the story of Jesus Christ with those closest to them!
This year the Global Outreach Day reaches the shores of Ireland with a vision to envision, train and see the diverse body of Christ from across denominations, traditions and backgrounds, scattering throughout their local communities on one day to share how Christ has changed our lives. Check out the launch video here. More information can be found here.
And finally, wherever God places us, as we seek to be faithful to Christ’s commission to be His witnesses, may we approach it ‘GLOCALLY’ … through our local foodbank AND the summer camp at the opposite end of this island AND to the ends of the earth.