All kinds of ships sail the missional seas of today. Some really big vessels have powerful engines. Others small boats navigate with just a couple of oars. Just as in commercial transport by sea, the flags of some northern countries once dominated the practice of Christian mission. In shipping, the flags of a few “free-states” allowed some to give less importance to security, maintenance and labour laws, with negative consequences.
The worldwide missional scene has seen in the last three decades the launching of many “mission vessels” with an unseen diversity of flags from all the continents. Without forcing the comparison, the spreading of the Good News requires all sorts of boats, both those that can navigate the big seas and those that can enter the smaller rivers and berth at local harbours.
The size of the boat does not matter, neither the port of origin. Some are built for deeper water, others are fragile for navigating streams but not the dangers of unknown seas. When big vessels try to enter small rivers or when rowboats go out to deep waters, catastrophe is eminent. Both “Titanics” and rowing boats have shipwrecked.
Both the numbers of injured sailors and of lost missionaries has been a big concern for some time.
The missional challenge is to understand and acknowledge the distinctive functions and seek co-operation between missional initiatives of all sizes, flags, and destinations. We look for partner-ships to be inclusive, respectful and strategic. As sea-routes go today from everywhere to everywhere, our missional co-operation should reflect the reality of the Holy Spirit’s initiative to move God’s people into His mission.
A good model for partnership is seen among Jesus’ disciples: “…they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats…” (Luke 5:7).
The WEA Mission Commission considers itself to be a missional community — a fleet of many diverse boats, if you will. The MC Leadership Team does not aspire for the MC to be a big vessel. Rather, we want to be a catalyst for many partner-ships that include both the big and the small. In the worldwide trouble waters we believe that a safer and more productive journey can be done when we know each other, share our navigation journals and unite our efforts.
What experiences have you had with mission partnerships? Feel free to post your comments.
The WEA Mission Commission Leadership Team wishes you all
A Blessed New Year!