Sunday, May 23, 2010

where does the hope come from? words of mission in mission

Today is a transition day – flying from Maroochydore to Bathurst via Sydney; from Queensland Synod lecture to working for with New South Wales ELM centre (lay ministry training); from one-off talk to two days of rolling conversation around the theme of transformers.

Last night I talked with the Queensland Synod about a word of mission. (Update: summary and even audio are here).

It’s a (neglected?) part of Uniting church worship and I used it as a framework to explore my ministry experience with Opawa Baptist. What were the words of mission in our change process? What did we do in actual ministry practice as a result of those words of mission? What were the leadership understandings that helped our journey?

So I looked at

  • the Pentecost story and the word of mission in Acts 2:6 people hearing “in their own language and how that helped shape our multi-congregational model.
  • and the Parable of the sower (I used a children’s book, Bodge plants a seed, by friend Simon Smith as a encouragement to lead by nuturing green shoots
  • and the story of Mary and Elizabeth, as a word of mission to Elizabeth’s to speak words of courage and life to the new things of God in our midst and for the church to be open to the unexpected innovation from Mary’s

And I reflected on the leadership understandings

At times as I spoke I felt that my attempt to weave the word of mission and the ministry practice and the leadership lessons were too ambitious for an hour lecture on a Saturday evening after a long day. I wished I could have been clearer, but alas, it is too late once one is speaking! And my powerpoints were not good enough. However, there was good group interaction and some thoughtful questions and some fascinating after-ward conversations.

May God’s peace rest upon the Queensland synod.

Posted by steve at 11:35 AM

Sunday, May 16, 2010

word of mission: a forgotten Uniting church treasure?

Over the weekend I discovered (thanks to Stephen Burns, who was a wonderful breath of fresh air in my attempts to understand the practice of mainline worship) what I think is a forgotten Uniting church treasure. In Uniting in Worship 2, the official book that guides Uniting worship, is a pattern for worship. The pattern is four-fold:

  • Gathering – including welcome and prayers of praise and confession
  • Word – including Scripture reading, preaching and prayers for others
  • Table – communion
  • Sending

The final section – Sending – is divided into a song, a benediction and this thing called “Word of mission.” This “Word of mission”, according to the book, could be a verse of Scripture, a sentence or a brief charge to the people.

I’ve never heard this, in all the Uniting services I’ve been part of. I wonder why I’ve not heard it. I wonder if it is just me, or if it’s fallen out of favour in general across the denomination. I wonder if it’s neglect says something about Uniting church life.

But what a gift, a moment when the people of God pause and prepare themselves for service in God’s world. It has all sorts of creative possibilities
– sharing in 2’s
– photos of the community which one is going to
– sounds of the world outside the church walls
– a litany of the places God is calling us to
– summing up the all that has gone before in the service in light of mission
– being recorded/journalled and then reflected on by leaders in terms of what God is saying in mission

Indeed, a forgotten treasure.

Posted by steve at 07:52 PM