|This Article is from the Spring 2007 edition of good idea!, also available here in a fully formatted PDF file.|
Missions do not always work out as the organizers expect. Sometimes areas of weakness are exposed. And sometimes the blessing comes in unexpected ways.
One of the dangers of parish life is that it can come to be a little, well, parochial: we can focus so much on our own efforts and ministry that we can become a little stuck in the rut of what we do. At St. Paul’s, we had, for the past six years, been focussed on growing and developing our ministry. But now there was a sense that we needed a breath of fresh air. God saw that need and met it through the ministry among us of the team from Wycliffe College.
The format of the Mission was fairly simple. We held coffee parties in homes; a wine and cheese party at the church; a Saturday morning breakfast get-together at a local restaurant; and an afternoon children’s event. Then, on Saturday evening, we had a youth night at the church, with a good turnout of young people, both churched and unchurched. At the same time, the adults met at a local pub for a time of great music and fellowship, and a talk relating faith to today’s culture. These were intended to be venues to which we could invite our non-churchgoing friends and neighbours. With the exceptions of the children’s and youth events, that largely didn’t happen: apparently Anglicans are shy about inviting their friends to unfamiliar things.
Having said that, over the time of the Mission we were revitalized, refreshed and reenergized. We saw the importance of small scale social events for outreach. We felt the impact of personal witness. We were reminded of the significance of ministry to and by our youth. And we were inspired by the team who had come among us, strangers in a strange place, to share their love of Jesus: not an easy thing to do.
The impact of the Mission is still with us almost five years later, still reminding us to look for new ways to live and show the old truth. The only real downside is that it inspired two of our core members to leave the parish and head off to seminary themselves!