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.free fist of fury aka chinese connection