The word ‘mission’ is being invested with fresh meaning as new ways of understanding our participation in God’s mission emerge in different parts of the church. As the reality of the Global Church becomes increasingly evident, the Christendom model of mission, focused on the geographic sending of supported workers, is giving way to localised ownership and expressions of mission by the whole church. Covid, and its associated restrictions on international travel and its lockdowns, has accelerated our recognition of this critical shift.
OCMS has always supported church leaders researching the ways localised expression of the Body of Christ participate in mission as transformation. Alongside this, we also recognise the need to support ministry and agency leaders, working synergistically with the local church. That’s why one of OCMS’ current strategic intentions is:
‘Intercultural Mission: A more intentional focus on resourcing global mission movements and their leaders’
This is happening in a number of ways. Let me mention three:
Our recruitment to the PhD and Guided Research (GRP) programmes is being shaped by this intention. As I taught the mission module to the latest cohort of GRP scholars this week, I could see that, due to its flexibility, the GRP is enabling us to serve leaders who would otherwise have no supported opportunity for reflection and research. It is an immense privilege to serve this group, some on the cutting edge of mission where, in their faithful witness, they have been subjected to hostility, violence and threat to life.
Another way we are focused on resourcing global mission movements is through the Integrated Mission Leadership programme. A new cohort of 31 senior mission leaders began in September, initially online. They represent 11 major mission agencies and include 3 mission pastors. One pastor is responsible for the intercultural mission work of his church that currently sends 900 workers and does so through no less than 10 organisations. Again, it’s a huge privilege to help these leaders reflect on the changing paradigm of mission and the kind of leadership and organisational arrangements that respond to how God is at work in our world.
The OCMS Forum for Faithful Witness is up and running with the first research team, led by Drs Kirk Franklin and Susan van Wynen. The team of 8 has launched a long-term study into the changing nature of missional global leadership. We look forward to benefiting from this work and seeing more research teams looking at different aspects of mission today.
Thank you for your prayer and other forms of support as we seek to be faithful to the vision of Habakkuk 2:14: the earth full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the depths of the seas.