Sunday, April 06, 2008

plotting healthy mission conversation

Sharpening the middle kicked off on Saturday in Auckland, and was one of the best mission events I’ve been at in a long time. It is not often I return from a full day of work with my heart singing, but I did yesterday. Here is why ….

Intersections – mission history, then mission theology was followed by 4 mission stories. The day then ended with two people, designated listeners, who sought to name some of the Biblical narratives heard during the day. In other words, practioners were listened to by Biblical missiologists, and enlarged by wider ranging contextual overviews. This mix provided a wonderfully rich set of conversations. So often Biblical missiologists talk to each other at one conference, while practioners listen to practioners at another.

Space – each bit of input was followed by time in groups, processing the implications. A highlight was seeing church teams, pastors surrounded by lay leaders, grappling with mission in their place. Input was given time to take root.

Breadth – we heard stories from ordinary churches through to established churches in transition, through to incarnational missional communities (groups of young adults living in community in poor streets). All were affirmed and sat easily alongside each other. We’ve moved well beyond one size fits all in mission.

Team – this was not a one guru-show. It involved 7 different speakers, ensuring diversity. Yet all spoke in humility and in ways that affirmed a diversity of approaches.

Denominational ownership – this was Baptist run and Baptist funded. People in the room included the Baptist national leader, the national consultant, the President and denominational lecturers. Resourcing for mission currently lies at the heart of our denomination.

Sharpening the Middle continues in Wellington on Thursday, then Christchurch on Saturday. It is being vidoed, and a DVD will be released, along with a discussion guide, for use by church groups. This could end up being a highly significant Kiwi resource – a sort of homegrown Fresh expression type mix of history, story and Biblical frameworks. I am also working on writing it up as a paper (given that I was both one of the listeners and one of the storytellers).

Posted by steve at 10:16 PM


  1. My almost 80yo f-i-l was there and spoke very highly of the event too – in particular, he made mention of “this young guy at Opawa” 😉

    Comment by Rachael — April 7, 2008 @ 9:11 am

  2. Hi Steve,

    Just catching up and caught your comment “All were affirmed and sat easily alongside each other. We’ve moved well beyond one size fits all in mission.”

    This is great and I hope others of us in other parts of the church and the world can see the video.

    Keep up the good work.

    Comment by David Morgan — April 7, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

  3. Thanks Rachael,
    nice to know that some people still consider me young. at 40 I’m starting to feel like a good red wine,


    Comment by steve — April 7, 2008 @ 5:16 pm

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