Refined involvement in global mission

Neil Harrison

9.10.2020 | Congregational Life, Global Mission, Mission, Refined

Neil Harrison, PCI Mission Development Officer, reflects on how congregations can engage with what God is doing in mission around the world at this time of global pandemic and introduces Digital Dispatches, PCI’s new way of sharing the work of the denomination’s Global Mission Workers.

Communication and relationship

Since the onset of the pandemic it has been frustrating at times to have been restricted in our relationships with those closest to our lives. Inviting people round to your house necessitates basic mental arithmetic to ensure adherence to the restrictions and is always coupled with the question of ‘are we allowed to do this?’ Fear and uncertainty make it increasingly difficult to make plans with others and so while our geographical distance from those we love has not changed, our relational distance has definitely suffered.

I have siblings in both Scotland and Ireland. Gatherings in these relationships have always been restricted by geography and are generally concentrated around a couple of seasonal celebrations each year. However, during lockdown and since, we have held a family video call almost every month. Geography is unchanged but communication has increased and as a result, relationships have flourished.

Good communication builds relationships, regardless of geographical distance.

Global Disciples Go Deep and Wide

Throughout the Bible we are reminded that we share a story with Christians all across the world and Jesus makes it clear that his story of rescue is not only for the past but for the present and future, extending further than we might have imagined:

‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…’ Matthew 28:19

In today’s increasingly smaller world, as followers of Jesus we have the opportunity to be Global Disciples as never before, playing a part in what God is doing both near and far. Go Deep, Go Wide is a recent way of giving every congregation in PCI a vison for dual focus for increasing involvement in global mission.

Going deep is about planting something with roots to grow. Experience shows that congregation’s best develop an active, involvement in global mission, by having at least one deep relationship with a particular person, place or project. This fosters a sense of familiarity and ownership within a congregation that will lead to livelier prayer, greater giving and ongoing support for global mission. Going deep encourages every congregation in PCI to take a step back, identify a deep relationship, and plant and grow it in a way appropriate to your situation.

However, God’s mission has many aspects to it across the world that we might miss if we only focus on a few deep relationships. Which moves us from Going Deep to Going wide as we stretch our horizons to enable involvement in the breadth of God’s global mission. In PCI we seek to do this through the weekly ‘Let’s Pray’ resource and the variety of annual appeals that have a global mission focus providing opportunities to care and respond in wide ranging ways.

New: Digital Dispatches

The latest part of the ‘Go Deep, Go Wide’ strategy has seen the development of regular digital communication featuring PCI’s Global Mission Workers (GMW’s). This was considered crucially important because we recognised that good communication builds relationships, regardless of geographical distance, and this will result in greater involvement through prayer and ongoing support.

Covid-19 accelerated the need for this as normal church visits from GMW’s on home deputation faced the additional challenges of workers not being able to get home due to travel restrictions, and the reality that many PCI churches and mid-week groups are unable to meet physically.

‘Digital Dispatches’ is catalogue of short and long film clips from each PCI GMW that can be used in church services, prayer meetings or events, to raise awareness and prayer for what God is doing across the world as we seek to go deep and wide in global mission involvement.

The short clips are three-minute profiles that give a window into the wide variety of mission PCI workers are involved in across the world. The clips introduce the GMW and their ministry, along with a number of current prayer requests. The longer clips are 10-15-minute stories that enable PCI congregations to go deeper in building a relationship with a GMW. The clips include an overview of their context and some stories from their ministry, along with a section of Bible teaching and prayer requests.

Growing your global mission involvement

Regardless of whether you are gathering physically or digitally, with a little bit of planning, every congregation can experience something of the breadth of what it means to be involved in all that God is doing in the world.

Perhaps you already have a relationship with a PCI GMW. If so then use the clips to update your congregation and deepen that relationship. If you don’t have a relationship with a GMW then might you consider using some of the short clips as a global prayer focus slot in your services, and be open to where God might be leading you into an ongoing relationship with a person, place or project?

Giving and receiving

Often with our western mindset, we perceive that we have more to give than receive regarding our involvement in global mission. However, perhaps a deep relationship overseas can be a much more equal partnership? We have much to learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ across the world who are experts in cross-cultural mission, a context that is increasingly similar across Ireland. There are many stories from congregations across PCI whose deepening involvement in global mission has led to significant discipleship growth of members, and greater involvement in local outreach, as people are captured by the heart of what it means to join-in with God’s mission. Three such stories are profiled in this short clip released last year which you can watch on Vimeo here.

So, as you think about what it means to be global disciples in your congregation, prayerfully reflect on where God is calling you to go deep, and use some of the resources produced to help you grow the roots of a particular relationship. Alongside this, look out for the many opportunities for global mission involvement throughout the year that allow you to go wide in participating in God’s amazingly varied work of mission across the world.

You can access the Digital Dispatches catalogue of clips here.

Neil Harrison is PCI's Mission Development Officer. 

This blog is part of the digital programme series, Refined, to help move our denominational conversation on from what was needed to initially respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, to seeking God’s leading and guiding for this next season of church life together.

Visit the Refined hub here.

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