by Steven Lewis
This is the second in a series of Sunday Partnership for Missional Church (PMC) slots dedicated to recapping and explaining everything that has happened in the first 2 years of PMC. This week I’m trying to explain what PMC is “all about” by attempting to demystify the first PMC jargon phase “Partnership for Missional Church”.
As a warmup act a short film titled “What is Church” was shown at the beginning of the service. There are many such short films available explaining “Missional Church”, but this one seemed to share many of the same ideas that form the basis of “PMC”.
What that short film doesn’t explain is how to be a “Missional Church” or for that matter what “Partnership for Missional Church” is. So, let’s start with the last word, “Church”. That should be easy. What is being referred to here?
- The building? Probably not
- The ministers, Patrick, Richard, Catherine? Well, isn’t it their job to be missional?
- The Anglican and Methodist Church leaders, Bishop Andrew, Circuit Chair John Hellyer? Again isn’t it their job to be missional?
- The congregation? What us!
Would you believe it, yes, it’s us, the members of the Church who are key to making PMC a success, with the ministers, church leaders, cheering us on. What about the PMC team and the Missional Innovation Team (MIT)? Well they do the “behind the scenes” work and even stand up in Church on Sunday, but, actually, they can’t achieve much on their own – it’s up to the members of the Church!
Next the tricky word, “Missional”, with its association with Victorian ministers off to Africa or knocking on doors greeting people with “Hi, I’m your friendly local Christian, I’d like to talk to you about God today”. Difficult, scary stuff and as I said on Sunday – “Hmm, sorry, I’d like to help, but, – I’m washing my hair that day!”
Actually, for PMC, being missional is about reaching out and engaging with people in our local community to understand and support and help them. The idea is that, through our support and help, people in the local community will become aware of our faith and want to know more. Research has shown there is a longing for a more spiritual, less materialistic life; we just need to “tap into it”.
As I said on Sunday – “Ok, not so bad. But how do we go about reaching out and engaging with our community? I don’t fancy “cold calling”; “Hi, I’m your friendly local Christian, how can I support and help you today?” Hmm, I’m still washing my hair!”
This brings us onto the word “Partnership”, which is about using the links we already have with our community, including links with people who are already supporting the community. Often we don’t even know these links exist, until, guided by God, we actually look for them.
Also Partnership for Missional Church suggests we look for where God is already active in our community and then, if guided by God, join in. Have I ever mentioned “Announcing the Kingdom” by looking for “God at Work”?
(Interesting in Acts, much of the early growth of the Church was through such links, through relatives or friends or receiving an invite and recognised “God at Work”. Also cold calling, in Acts, didn’t work! So we’re simply copying the early Christians – and look how well they did!)
My understanding of Partnership for Missional Church is: us, the members of our Church, guided by God, using our existing links and contacts and looking for “God at work” to reach out and engage with our local community to better understand, support and help – based on our faith. This will encourage those looking for something better, looking for God, to want to know more about us and our faith.
Quite a mouthful to say every time, hence abbreviated to “Partnership for Missional Church”. As I finished on Sunday “Hmm, doesn’t seem too difficult or scary; God guiding us all the way, why wasn’t that said in the first place instead of ‘Partnership for Missional Church’? – I can wash my hair another day!”