Make the way clear!

I am accustomed to undertaking some fairly demanding walks in the Lake District, and this week while at the Keswick Convention is no different.  Yesterday, what should have been a reasonably easy walk turned into a challenging scramble up screes and rocks after I missed the turning.  On returning to the point where I had gone wrong, I realised that the principal route looked like a side turning and the ‘wrong’ and more dangerous path looked wider.  There was no signpost.  Since “the broad path leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13) and with the lives of future fellwalkers in mind, I made an impromptu arrow to show them which way to go.

There are obvious evangelistic applications to this point, but also ones for discipleship, as we show others less experienced than we are how they can live a Christian life.  But there is also an application in mission: too often I have met the injured mission workers who got lost or had an accident along the way, because there was nobody to point them the correct way.

Syzygy is pleased to be working ever more closely with mission agencies to help them guide their mission partners effectively.  But many of the people we help have no connection to mainstream agencies.  Perhaps their church has sent them, bypassing an agency, though the church may have little understanding of how to support them in the field.  Sometimes (like me when I go hiking) they think they know what they’re doing only to find out the hard way they had no idea.  Or maybe they have just gone off and done their own thing without considering the challenges, just like the tourists I see walking up mountains like Scafell Pikes wearing sandals and taking no water with them.

This is why Syzygy seeks to work together with sending churches, and churches of those independent mission workers who are not looking to be ‘sent’, to help train them before they go.  They may not even think they need training, but our experience of picking up the pieces tells us differently.  People we have helped testify to the effectiveness of this.  One mission worker remarked later: “All that stuff you talked through with us, it was so helpful, because it was things we hadn’t even thought about that we needed to do.”

So we need your help to link us into churches who would like more information about how to support mission workers more effectively, and to alert independent mission workers to their need for preparation.  On our website we have a guide for churches and a guide for people going alone.  We want to do everything in our power to point the way effectively for those who are going.  Then, not only can they have a great experience of mission, they can help make the way clear to those who follow them.

Featured ministry: Christian Vocations

cv_logo_webWe’ve mentioned Christian Vocations a few times on this website before, but it’s worth stopping to draw your attention to this excellent ministry.  CV (as it’s known to its friends) has been active for many years helping people get into the right place in mission.  Its focus is on helping people to understand themselves, know their giftings, and find the right opportunity for ministry.

STS2014_cover_165x215Probably the most well-known product is the Short-Term Service Directory, which is the best place for anybody thinking of doing short-term mission to start.  It lists agencies which provide short-term opportunities, and tells you where they work and what they do.  No church should be without it.  How else are you going to know where to send people when they tell you they’re thinking of doing some short-term mission?

In addition to the thousands of opportunities for short-term service listed in the directory, CV also maintains a huge online file of vacancies in the mission world both at home and abroad.  A simple search engine on their website will help you identify roles that might be appropriate for you if you’re looking to serve God in mission.  In the event that you don’t find anything appropriate, they also have a registration service where you can tell CV what you’re looking for, and if anybody registers a vacancy that matches your requirements, they email you.

68547_10151597577244603_1250709866_nAnother CV ministry which Syzygy has been involved with for quite a while is the Vocationzone, which is a major feature of events such as Spring Harvest, Word Alive and Keswick.  Drawn by the opportunity to complete a simple computer questionnaire to help them identify their giftings, hundreds of people each week are helped by CV advisors to explore God’s plan for their lives and consider how God might be calling them to serve him.  As a result, many people go away enthused with a new vision and purpose for being used by God in mission.  If you’re at Spring Harvest this year, drop into the Skyline and check out the Vocationzone, and you may even meet a Syzygy representative helping out.

reignite_green_500x175CV is also behind the renowned retreat called re:ignite, which is designed specifically for mission workers on home assignment in the UK.  The well-planned programme balances time to relax and reflect with input on issues like transition, stress and communication.  There are still spaces available on this year’s retreat in May.

Other reflective exercises are available on the CV website which can help people understand their gifts and role in church and mission more effectively.  For those who want to explore this more thoroughly, there is an excellent personal advice service called designate, which uses professional advisors to help people gain a clearer picture through one-to-one mentoring.  While there is a nominal charge for this service, we think it’s excellent value and people we know who have been through it speak very positively of it.

MM2014_cover_180x250CV also produces the very helpful magazine Mission Matters.  This contains articles, testimonies, stories of mission from around the world, and a sample of the vacancies CV advertises.  This is an ideal resource for sharing with a youth group, giving to people considering a vocation in mission, so make sure you have a good stock on your church bookstall.

In addition to all this, the CV website also has a collection of guidelines, articles, and other resources which all contribute to CV’s goal of helping people find the right place for them in God’s mission.

Helping your church become more mission-minded

empty church

Can an empty church afford an investment in world mission?

Many churches are not interested in global mission.  Sometimes it’s just a lack of exposure to it, or sometimes they’ve got their hands full with keeping Sunday services going and balancing the books, so they think they’ve got no time for what they see as optional extras.

This can be terribly frustrating for mission-minded people who are part of such churches, particularly if they’re not in a position of leadership and have little or no opportunity to speak into the direction of the church.  We’ve met people like this.  But before you jump ship and go off to find a church with a mission vision, ask yourself whether God has put you in that church to help them become more mission minded.  Here are some suggestions for things that the average lay person can do to help their church develop a passion for world mission.

praying handsPray.  While praying for mission workers yourself, pray also for your church to catch the vision.  Seek out key prayer partners in the church and ask them to pray with you.  If intercession is part of your church tradition, supply specific prayer requests for inclusion, so that people get used to praying for mission.  Attend church prayer meetings and always take the opportunity to pray for mission workers.

Make connections.  When mission workers you know are on home assignment, ask them to visit you, and invite friends round for a meal with them.  That way, people will begin to get to know mission workers for themselves.

Use resources.  Many mission agencies publish leaflets or online materials for you to use.  See for example OMF’s page Seven Ways to pray for mission workers.  Get copies and give them to friends.  Share links on your favourite social media platform.

Take people out.  If you’re going to a mission event, and you think it’s not going to be boring, take a couple of friends with you so maybe they can get enthused.  A good example would be GOfest or Passion for Mission but there are many others organised by agencies.  Or go to one of the big conferences as a church group, and invite people to visit the mission seminars or display areas.  Keswick is a great example of doing this well – and you get to enjoy the Lake District at the same time!

Serving as SendersGet some vision trainingOscar runs an excellent course called Serving as Senders.  Your church may not be ready for a full course, but how about organising a fundraising dinner and getting Oscar along to talk about it?  It’s a good way to get the ball rolling.

Tell your own story.  If you’ve had a powerful experience of mission, tell people.  Be careful not to do it, as people will become deaf to it if you’re the person who’s always going on about how great it was in Uganda (or wherever), but when it’s appropriate, take the time to explain what a life-changing experience it was for you.

Link into the church’s vision.  It can be hard trying to get the church interested in something it hasn’t got a vision for, but if they’re already running with something, join in.  So, for example, if they run a food bank, they’ve got a vision for helping the hungry.  Remind them that there are plenty of hungry people in other countries and they could get involved in that too.

Do a short term trip.  Invite people to pray for you while you go, show them photos when you get back.  Take somebody else with you, preferably an opinion-former within the church community.

Sadly, many churches fear that losing some of their best volunteers to global mission, coupled with the need to commit time, money and effort to supporting them is a drain on the church’s limited resources.  We prefer to see it as an investment which will feed back into a vibrant missional life of the church.  Pardoxically, giving people into world mission

You can find more resources for church’s on the Global Connections website.  Syzygy is always willing to work with church’s to help them develop a mission focus.  For more information please email info@syzygy.org.uk.