This is our second year where we have encouraged people in our small groups (we call them K3Y groups) to not just give money and not just listen to other people's experiences but to actually get active and find opportunities to serve and build relationships with people in our local community. We encourage our small groups to do this together because it's always easier to do something in groups rather than as individuals.
- Intimacy with God
- Relationships with Christians
- Connecting with people who don't yet know God
We have found the third value - connecting with people who don't yet know God the most challenging value for our groups
Even as groups it can be scary to 'go out' and find ways to partner with people. Our groups are made up of teenagers through to people in their 80's but we think age shouldn't be an excuse for not caring for people in our community. It's been exciting to hear the stories that our groups have been sharing with the leadership team. One group of older women has been organising afternoon tea for the police chaplain to take to the police station when he visits. One of our teenage groups supported another local church by helping out at their Easter event. Another group organised a "Biggest Afternoon Tea" to raise money for the cancer council. These are just a few examples. Each group is encouraged to look at their own gifts, skills and interests to think how they could serve people in the community. This is only the second year we've done this but I can see how people are willing to take a risk and try something new. Sometimes the hardest decision in doing something new is just deciding you're going to actually do it.
To keep encouraging groups we had a K3Y event night where we continued to look at the "Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations" by Robert Schnase, with a focus on Risk Taking Mission and Service. We began by acknowledging there are risks involved when we decide to get involved in mission and work alongside people. Usually we think of the risks to ourselves before thinking about the risks for others or even the positive risks involved. We all react to risk in different ways.
In mission there is a starting point and that starting point can be different for each person. This can include:
- Sensing an invitation or a call from God
- An awareness of human need
- Feeling unworthy or inadequate but wanting to do something
- Wanting to make a difference
- Finding purpose and meaning
- Seeing an opportunity to using Spiritual gifts or material resources
In mission we are aware that God invites us to participate in God's mission.
We join God in mission where we learn to love God and love others the way God loves us. (John 13:34) It is a risk to allow ourselves to love people who aren't like us, don't think like us, don't look like us. Loving others like God loves us pushes us to re-evaluate our friendship circles and moral circles as we build friendships with people with different life experiences to our own.
In mission we risk not being in control:
- We don't know the outcomes and whether our efforts will make a difference
- We don't have all the answers
- We don't have all the resources
- We risk relying on others generosity and receiving what they offer
- We need to be sensitive to any inequalities of power/influence/money
In mission we risk relationships:
- Relationships take time
- Relationships need commitment
- Relationships can't be planned
- We risk getting involved
As we practice risk taking mission and service, God's Spirit;
- Changes us
- Changes others
- Changes churches
In mission we risk failure:
Failure is different for each person
“Risk taking mission and service is one of the fundamental activities of church life that is so critical that failure to practice it in some form results in deterioration of the church’s vitality and ability to make disciples of Jesus Christ. When churches turn inward, using all resources for their own survival and caring only for their own people, then spirituality wanes.” Schnase pg 83
In mission we risk Spiritual growth:
We discussed how mission looked for a person on a discipleship pathway from new to connecting and growing through to leading.
We had some good, thought provoking table discussions and input throughout the night. It might help our groups to think of ways they can continue to be involved in risk taking mission and service.