It seems that the natural default for most communities is to go to the “what” rather than the “why” of ministry direction. Why we do what we do stands at the centre of who are as Communities of Hope and Compassion. Vision is the way in which each community describes their “why”. The “what” is shaped according to the particular demands of context and need. Now more than ever, vision is critical. It is out of vision we are able to take the steps of purposefully Building Communities of Hope and Compassion and Leaders that will lead them.
Through the Communities Team your Church or Agency can be given tools, assisted by workshops and clear processes in developing a vision and future.
Compass is a self-assessment tool designed for church communities seeking to change their conversation from a ‘church’ conversation to a mission conversation.
The questions and thought starters are a way to begin describing the Identity, naming the Purpose, and discerning Futures for the church as a Community of Hope and Compassion.
Changing the Conversation
Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania are deeply indebted to leaders and conversation partners who over many years have consistently invited everybody in the movement to ‘change the conversation’. Explicitly or implicitly this has often been in dialogue with Lesslie Newbigin’s challenging question from the late 1960s: “…what would be involved in a genuine missionary encounter between the gospel and the culture…?”
What then does it mean for a community to change the conversation in this season?
For many it could mean changing the conversation from a focus on 'fixing the church' (making it 'healthy', getting its governance right, finding ways to be financially sustainable etc) to a focus on mission (and engaging the neighbourhood as 'local missionaries', as a sign, witness and foretaste of God's Kingdom). As others have written, it is Christology first, then Missiology, and finally Ecclesiology. Cultural circumstances and consequential anxieties constantly tempt us to put the last first. To put it another way, a good theology of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will write our story around mission in our context, and thus propelled by mission, appropriate (and diverse) shapes of church will emerge. Mission will have a church, rather than a ‘church’ having a mission.
Given this frame, the 'church' conversation is changing to a mission conversation.
Now, it must be said, the church, the body of Christ is an important tool to bring in the Kingdom. As Paul writes in Ephesians while explaining his missional calling, God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. However, as important as it is, the church is not the Kingdom.
This Church Compass can be one way to begin changing the conversation…
To engage in the Church Compass discussion, contact the Communities Team or call 03 9488 8800.