Mission is an extreme sport. And to help me get in shape I'm spending this week at the BMS World Mission training centre in Birmingham (UK) doing the course they run to prepare people for going overseas as short / mid term volunteers.
It's a strange experience being a student, these days I spend lots of time in front of people teaching and preaching so it is good to explore the feelings that come with being the learner not the facilitator. We are a mixed group of ages, the youngest is 18, most are in their 20's and the oldest is 60. Everyone (I think) has some experience of short term overseas mission (even if only a couple of weeks). Two of us are involved in repeated short term trips, several are going overseas for a year or two and the remainder for shorter term trips. The majority are headed to India and Nepal, a couple to France, two to countries in Africa, me to Peru and one somewhere else.
Mission is about loving, giving and sending but in order to be effective we need to be aware of how we view the world and who we are working with. So the main elements of the course speed through sessions to help us think about mission, the gospel our worldview and so on. There are also sessions on practical topics, so today we have had one on bribery (don't!) and communication (writing prayer letters, funky blog posts etc) - as part of the communication session this afternoon we had to write a short engaging blog post with a catchy title and engaging opening paragraph. As you can see I used these at the start of this but then returned to normal. The course is intensive from 8:30 in the morning to 8pm ish at night, with opportunities for extra reading / homework.
Over the next couple of days I'll try and write a bit about each day... so from day 1 here are some questions to ponder:
- Is our view of mission, something we do or which God does? (And are holistic understanding of mission predecated on the assumption that it is something we do?)
- How can we be tools in God's mission?
- Do we think of mission as encounter or expansion?
- What filters do we use to see & understand the world?
- What cultural presumptions are in your invisible backpack?