The Great Commission of Jesus Christ was first issued to the first apostles of the church. It has arguably been carried out, since then, by a double-act of the “apostolic bands” (mission agencies) and the local church – i.e. church ‘on-the-move’ and church ‘on-the-spot’. After two centuries of the mission agency taking the lead, a new collaboration is emerging.
At times the relationship of “local church” and “mission agency” has been less than productive – to say the least. At best it has been characterised by the mission-agency providing a polite function, providing the service of mission-sending; at worst it has sometimes descended into a parasitic relationship where the mission-agency was ultimately saying “give us your pounds and your people and leave it to us”.
If those were the ‘bad old days’, a new day is dawning; it’s a new era of harmonious partnership where the local church and the mission agency co-operate to engage in the Great Commission together.
Interserve is one such mission agency, where this new way of relating is primary and non-negotiable. They did a survey of church leaders to ask the key questions such as:
- Are mission agencies still needed in the post-colonial era?
- If not why not? If so, what would you (as a church) like to see them doing?
- What is your church’s mission vision?
- What help do you need to fulfil it?
The response to such questions has revealed that a process of democratization is going on. In the colonial era, someone needed to take the initiative and be in the driving seat and mission agencies stepped up to the plate. However, in the current context the local church is coming into its own. The mission agency now needs to step-back and allow the local church to step-up, which more are doing.
The mission agency now needs to support the local church by providing the necessary cross-cultural experience and skills, gained overseas, and reapplying it to the current need. For Interserve, this means producing resources that enable local churches to engage in as much of the mission process as possible.
A ground-breaking resource has now been published called the Mission Life & Practice Series (ML&P). This is a pack of nine booklets (11,000 words each). It is published under the Interserve publishing imprint Kitab Resources. It’s a personal or group resource for people on a mission-journey, or for people who are supporting those who are on that journey.
The standard of content in the booklets is high; authors include Tony Horsfall, Martin Goldsmith, Matt Vaughan, Stewardship Services and me.
Our “People Care Team” are using them with applicants joining Interserve; church leaders and mission groups are using them as an internal local church resource. The series looks set to be well-received by churches and mission agencies.
The Mission Life and Practice Series retails for £25 and £3 each for individual titles. Order details can be found on this link, http://kitab.org.uk/mission-life-and-practice-series-4370