I’ve heard its good to do something that scares you every now and then and last night was that occasion for me. I was asked to speak to the young adults at Riverton Baptist… (Actually that doesn’t scare me half as much as speaking to lower high schoolers)
And the job was to slot into their mission series (based on GIA’s ‘Calling Charlie Program) and challenge them to think about the whole idea of contextualisation. Over the years I have discovered that its quite a stretch for us Baptists to think differently about mission and church, but for some reason my own journey has taken me right into the guts of this issue particularly as it relates to western culture.
The basic focus was to encourage them to be people who experiment, take risks and have courage when it comes to mission in the west. It is in our nature to play it safe, so giving permission or even pushing people ‘out of the nest’ is vital if we are going to do more than business as usual.
I presented a series of innovative mission endeavours and that I knew would gradually stretch people’s thinking and acceptance more and more, starting with our own story with Upstream and working thru to ‘Mission in Second Life’, a virtual online mission field / church. I’m pretty sure the noise in the room dropped a little and the temperature in the room rose a little each time I moved further and further into more unfamiliar territory, which probably means I was hitting the right issues.
At the end of the talk I was about to sit down and get ready to drive home when I felt one of those Holy Spirit nudges / elbows in the guts.
I sometimes find myself driving to churches or speaking events wondering ‘really – what’s the point?’ Some days I honestly feel like I am wasting my time because all that I feel happens is that people say ‘hmmm… interesting… nice for you, but we’ll just keep about business as usual’. Its a frustrating experience and one that I wanted to confront last night.
So I did. I finished by telling the crew of 150 or so that I was worried that I was wasting my time and that I had grown a bit cynical about whether anyone actually wanted to do anything with the ideas, or whether it would simply get filed in the ‘wacko’ basket. I didn’t want to come across rude, but I don’t want to be an entertainer either.
I invited people to stand up and be counted if they felt God stirring them on this and if they wanted to actually do something with it. About 10 people stood up, which was pretty encouraging, and the conversations afterwards showed that for a small number there a fire had been lit that would continue to encourage them in their own missionary journey.
Here’s hoping we will continue to unearth new missionaries to the western world, willing to do whatever it takes to share the love of God with a tough secular society.