What on Earth?
Welcome to the CSUA Mission Enabler page, I suspect you are wondering what a Mission Enabler is? If you’re not then you may want to go straight to look at the section < How I can help you?> below, if you’re still reading let’s begin at the beginning.
I became a Christian at the tender age of 15 and have been a minister for 20 years and a church leader for 15 years before, so I probably have a good deal of experience in the lives of our churches and the huge variety of people within them. I have experienced the highs and lows of being a follower of Christ, seen churches and groups grow and shrink, I have seen people come to know Christ and some who have walked away. I have seen churches explore new ways of being church and thrive and some who have resolutely refused to change and have died. Some gracefully have closed so that they could bring life to others, others have painfully ceased to be church and the hurt was evident to all. My experience as a minister has seen churches obsessed with themselves and others who have faithfully sought to follow Christ wherever he takes them.
During one ministry I remember sitting in a café thinking ‘what am I doing?’ should I be part of church that is so painfully Sunday focussed that it is no longer growing, people are leaving, people are moaning and yet still so many outside the church know nothing of the love of Christ for them… I haven’t got time for this… this caused me to change the direction from being Sunday centric to try and help Christians engage with the communities that they are part of. I became a Mission Enabler to help bring that message of hope back to our churches and to the communities they are part of.
The role of Mission Enabler; simply put is to help churches and individuals engage and respond to and bring the love and hope of the Good News of Jesus Christ within their church and in particular their wider communities. Whilst each mission enabler role is different, our main function is to enable others to be missional rather than to ‘do the mission’ for others. That is, to guide, inspire, equip and facilitate people to confidently carry the Gospel into our every day lives.
Nanny McPhee or not Nanny McPhee..that is the question
“When you need me, but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go.". Nanny Mcphee’s famous line from the children’s movies applies well to the role of Mission Enabler. However, if you as churches recognise your needs and want me to come and help you that’s great! The realisation that your church is in need of help is half the battle. Many churches don’t realise their need despite being in spiralling decline. I will say though that if the churches or individuals within them are quite happy as they are and don’t want to see others come to know Christ that’s ok with me but you do in fact need my help! I however, am not going to force you to do something you don’t want to do but and it is a BIG BUT, I would strongly encourage you to look at Matthew 28:19-20 where our Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples (followers) to “Go into all the world and tell them the Good News of Jesus Christ and to disciple them and to baptise them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” To be a Christian is a calling to help others to experience the Jesus Christ as demonstrated in the outrageous, gracious, love of God.
Believers & Burgers
I think we all need to be aware that just because somebody goes to church that that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a Christian, as Nicky Gumble the founder of the famous Alpha Course says “just because I go to a McDonald’s doesn’t necessarily make me a hamburger!”
I knew someone who had been to church for sixty years before she realised that her relationship with Jesus should be personal as well as something she shared with others. We cannot assume that just because somebody comes to church that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
It can be said that here in the UK we have three or four generations of people who have no spiritual dialogue with the Christian faith; that is no understanding of a personal relationship with God in their lives. For many of us, we grew up hearing the Christian story at home, in school and at work, our culture was Christian from start to finish so that when it actually came to realising that you personally need a relationship with Jesus Christ you didn’t need to be taught everything about the faith before you accepted him as Lord. Whereas today you cannot assume such a base knowledge of faith. Finding faith, for many people it is like moving to a foreign country and expecting to speak their language and understand their culture immediately without any help!
To come to church or not to come to church ISN’T the question!
We can often think, as regular church goers, that our neighbours and friends who aren’t Christians have made or are making a choice each week whether to come to church or not! They are NOT, we as church are not even on their radar of understanding or awareness, they don’t know we are even here. The only time they might, and I emphasise ‘might’ come to us is in those times when significant ‘life events’ such as birth, death and marriage come across their paths. This is not because they have chosen not to believe but rather, they have no meaningful understanding of Christ in their lives because their parents and grandparents haven’t either.
Spirituality is alive and kicking
Research has shown though that our culture is spiritual in that it is open to discussion that there is more to life than just the physical (i.e. we’re born, we live, we die, approach). The question ‘That there must be more to life than this?’ rings true especially in an increasingly callous society. Most people are open to the discussion of an ‘other’ existence, but often traditional forms of religion such as Christianity are dismissed as out of place and old fashioned or at worst totally irrelevant!
How I can help you?
So how can I help you to help others to come to know Christ? Given some of the boundaries and barriers as discussed above, we can’t just keep on doing what we’ve always done and expect different results, indeed some say that is the definition of madness! Rather we must see how we can help people to start being able to relate to the living God. Opening such a dialogue which can open someone else’s life to Jesus Christ is surely, or at least should be, our hearts desire!
‘Heartfelt Lifestyle Christianity Course’
It often starts with us; many Christians are not confident of sharing their own faith and feel they cannot confidently give a reason for the faith that they have to others. 1 Peter 3:15 says ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’ Over three sessions of 1 ½ hrs each, we gently discuss and discover how to naturally share our faith with those we meet.
‘A Church Vision Day’
As churches we can easily drift from one year to the next, getting from one Sunday to the next, often struggling to recruit people to fulfil necessary roles. There simply isn’t the time to think about how the church might grow. A Vision Day gives deliberate time and space to the church to think about it’s future and the deepening of the faith of the regular attenders. During the time together we look at why we are here and how we might encourage growth in depth and in number. We can also help focus on our personal faith and how we might not only grow but flourish and bear much fruit.
Small Group Advice
Help with setting up or revising our discipleship groups / house groups, starting a Exploring Christianity course such as ‘The Alpha Course’
To your Ministers and Church leadership teams with suggestions for resources and practical advice that might help discipleship and outreach. Sometimes having an ‘outsider's’ perspective can really help us see ourselves very differently.