In 1987 I first felt God calling me to be a missionary. I thought it was going to be overseas (that was the only place missionaries went in them days!)
But I never did make it overseas and finished up as the youth pastor in my home church. By 1991 I had begun to articulate my calling as ‘communicating the gospel to Australian people in ways that they could understand’. For 10 years this was my standard answer any time someone asked, but I didn’t see any overlap between the two ‘callings’. I felt I had moved away from the ‘missionary’ calling and was to be a ‘pastor’.
It was around 1998 that it began to dawn on me that God was still calling me to be a missionary. What a relief! There was so much about pastoring that I just didn’t get into.
I began to see the synergy between the two ‘callings’ but felt very strongly that I was to be a missionary to Australia. I began to see the need here in Oz in a different light. What a freeing experience!
Five years on when people ask me about calling it has three parts to it:
1. Communicating the gospel to Australian people in ways that they can understand (no change)
2. Developing church communities they can feel a part of.
3. Training up leaders to be first world missionaries and church planters here in Oz.
Over the last twenty years my calling has not changed that much. I sense it has just sharpened in focus and broadened in scope. At its heart is a concern for the church to be effective in its mission. Keith Green was a big influence when I was teenager!
Its only been in the last few years that I have really appreciated the need for indigenous faith communities where Ozzies can genuinely belong and participate in. And as I have aged (or matured…) I have begun to see that I have something I can give to others – in fact I feel very strongly that I need to give to others if I am to be faithful to what I have been called to.
These thoughts stem out of a book I have just been reading on ‘tentmaking’ and the notion of being bivocational.
I don’t think it matters what I actually do with my time. It won’t shift my calling. The tension comes in that teaching two days a week to support my church planting habit obviously leaves less time for the business of mission, equipping, leadership etc.
Some would say that means the body functions more healthily because others must get involved. Others would say it just limits what you can do.
I say… both.
Conversation around the lunch table at Christian school I teach at.
“So which church are you at these days Bob?”
“Oh I’m going to Vanilla Baptist. Have been for 3 years”
“Right… so whose church is that?…”
Is it just me or do we identify churches too readily with senior pastors? And if we do then what does that say about our theology and what implications does it have?
BTW – it was me who asked the question!
Just wondering – what that might look like?
I don’t think it’d be my cup of tea!
Good post here from Tim as a follow up to my comments on ‘Borden’.
The banana benders (Queenslanders for non Aussies) have been using his stuff for a while now and seeing some results as well as asking some questions.
Read his observations.
As part of my job in establishing Forge over here I have been negotiating with denominations to try and secure funds as a partnership/sponsorship arrangement.
Today I finally heard back from one denomination I have been chasing since June last year. I met with them and they agreed to discuss possibilities. They sounded very positive. I phoned them, emailed them and no one got back to me. I phoned and emailed again. Still no one…
I phoned over 10 times and emailed over 10 times also, but they just didn’t respond. I was wondering if they were trying to give me a message. If that was the case then I refused to hear it. I call it rude not to respond to a person’s calls.
Eventually in February someone agreed to see me, but it had been so long I had to do the whole spiel all over again. They said they would call me…
I emailed… I called… 4 times each.
Eventually last week I sent a letter. And today I got two letters back – one from the CEO and one from the ‘mission’ guy.
Guess what?… They said ‘no’…
I actually don’t care about the ‘no’, but I do care about the crap treatment I received from them. Servant leadership. Yeah…
They shall remain nameless.
Steve called us low brow! I would have thought very low brow was more accurate… Excellent post here – have a read.
‘Borden’ is the name that gets dropped at WA Baptist pastors gigs everywhere these days. Are you using the ‘Borden’ model? What do you think of ‘Borden’? It seems we are infected with Bordenitis everywhere.
Today I met with ‘Borden’ – Paul Borden – executive minister with the American Baptist Churches of the West, a denomination that has resurrected over the last 10 years from dismal decline.
He is doing a review of our Baptist Union (denomination) and will be making recommendations for how we ought to function if we are serious about mission.
He has a very ruthless and at time disturbing approach to what he does. He gets the job done in a sense but I have had some reservations about his methodology. For some reason only two of us met with him today, and after he had finished asking for our assessments of the denonination he asked if we wanted to question him on anything.
For twenty miniutes I was able to question, debate and discuss with him what he was really about. I wish we had longer because it was just starting to get interesting. He would say he is for seeing people who are lost being found however you do it – we agree on priority.
I’m not sure we would agree on philosophy (Christology informing missiology informing ecclesiology). I spoke with him about this, and while he affirms the need to think like missionaries, I sense theirs is still very much a funked up attractional Christendom model of church.
The thing is it seems to be ‘working’. It seems to be impacting communities, changing lives and producing disciples.
As of yet I am not convinced that they appreciated the cultural framework of Oz and the limited appeal of the attractional beast.
It seems we will be doing more of the same but more effectively if we embrace his ideas. I still ask what about those who will never come to any church no matter how funky?
On Friday Danelle heads off to Mandurah again for the weekend, this time with 4 of the girls from round here. There is Heidi from the team and three others we have got to know.
They will have a ball – staying in a resort, eating out, partying, sleeping in…
I will look after children…
Actually I love spending big slabs of time with the kids – I just have to make sure I’m not wanting to do anything else!!
Its been a morning for Forge admin. Yicky stuff… emails, details, finance, ouch!
Think I’ll go fishing or surfing this afternoon to ease the pain.
Looks nice out there …
My mobile phone carked it on the weekend so currently Danelle and I are sharing a phone. If you can’t get me on it that’s why!
Should be alive again by mid this week.