Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Melbourne on mission

Monday afternoon I headed for Melbourne. I was keynote speaker at the Uniting Church Presbytery of Yarra annual ministers retreat, invited to speak for three sessions on mission.

  • Mission today – a crash course on recent trends (culture, Spirit, Jesus, church) in non-Western mission and some implications
  • Mission as fresh expressions – missio Dei, Luke 10:1-12 and how they might shape fresh expressions
  • Leadership and mission – Mary and Elizabeth and how they might shape our imagination as leaders today

The first session was totally new, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, to try and summarise trends in mission. So it was a fair bit of work, but a good excuse and it certainly helped in setting a mission framework for our discussions. (Although like all first times, the session lacked a bit of colour.)

The group were a good bunch – quiet, thoughtful, intelligent, diverse. In addition, the numbers and setting and sense of history with each other ensured some really excellent discussion. (And quite some interest in some of our mission training options.)

It proved a memorable trip. It started with the suggestion that I pick up a rental car, which made sense logically. But it did require driving in rush hour through a strange city and then 90 minutes drive into the country, to a fairly isolated retreat centre. It got dark, the night stormy and wet, blown branches strewn all over the roads, which got narrower and narrower. And the evening news that the ash cloud from the volcano in Chile had returned. And so my flight back was cancelled.

The result was an overnight delay and a missed Faculty meeting.

But some good time in casual conversation, which is always so valuable in helping me get my head in Australia.

Posted by steve at 09:11 PM


  1. Steve

    I am interested in what you mean when you say ‘get my head in Australia”.

    Let me tell you my story, my experience.

    About 7 years ago I worked in Wellington, on a professional exchange program, and was privileged to travel most of the country. My cultural egocentricity became aware to me when I was stranding in a que and I thought, “Don’t all these people talk strangely?” Then I came to my sense and realised that I was the minority and thought “Hang on, i’m the visitor, I’m the minority, how are these people experiencing me?”

    To cut the story short, I soon realised I had mistakenly thought that because New Zealander’s were anglo, they’d be like Aussie’S. Paradoxically, in one sense they are, in others they are not. What I found was they they do not share Aussie humour (i.e, irony & paradox), they were very ‘gentle’and ‘respectful’ people, and they reflected the Adelaide culture I grew up in during the 1960’s (no criticism here because there seems to be a more enlivened sense of sincere ‘relationship’ and ‘community’ than we have in Australia ‘over the ditch’.

    I was fortunate to have some discussions with New Zealander’s who did business in NZ and in Australia. They generally confirmed my experiences and suggested that NZ’s were more ‘gentle’ and felt ill at ease with the Aussie directness and competitiveness. They felt that, if Aussie’s wanted something they went ‘straight out’ for it, whereas NZ’s were more cautious or circuitous.

    That’s my experience – right or wrong – and I appreciate there is much generalisation, but perhaps there is some validity in the archetypes.

    How do you experience us, what might we learn from that?


    Comment by fred trueman — June 23, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  2. Hi Fred,

    There are certainly cultural differences. When I made the comment, I was thinking about the fact that since I was not flying out straight away, I had a chance to enjoy a meal and some really good conversations cf speaking and leaving straight away.

    So a simple gratefulness for that and the way that as people processed stuff with me, I get more of a glimpse of how what I say is tracking and engaging and resonating (and not) with people. A great gift.


    PS thanks for the postcards – never had a student send me postcards before. Very cool 🙂


    Comment by steve — June 23, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

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