Trawling through many parish websites I have enjoyed finding so much variety in what is on offer to the wider community! And, as a happy consequence, I have also found lots of variation in how members of the churches are meeting together in interesting and creative ways – invigorating for their faith and their friendships.
However, I have also observed something that is missing from our websites! It is possible to see people, to see calendars, to see events, groups and activities on the pages. It is even possible to read between the lines and get a feel of what the services will be like in style and content. But what about the relationships? These you can’t embody on a screen!
In terms of what we call ‘mission’, I am left wondering about the individual relationships, the befriending, the companionships, the family friendships which grow out of sharing love, hospitality and shared interests?
For many, the idea of mission is linked to ‘doing things through or at Church’, forgetting that We Are The Church!
Which begs the question: How can we ‘do mission’ in our everyday lives?
Here are a handful of stories of how living out their faith has affected the way these individuals engage with others and share the love of Jesus with them:
Michelle is a mum of two, an artist with a passion for music and loves working night shifts in a residential home for elderly people:
“I sit and pray with my residents and sing worship songs with them. Even when they can’t sing along it seems to bring them peace. And it feels good to use my voice for the benefit of others.
I have a lady whose daughter used to come to visit her and sing hymns from their songs of praise song book. She hasn’t been able to visit as often recently but I often sit and pray with her and we sing hymns together. It brings her back to earth and pushes the darkness back for her.
Many of our residents don’t see their families because they find seeing them in pain etc. hurts, but I get to be with them for their more lucid moments. It is precious to me as well.”
Craig was a police dog handler in the RAF. He is married with two children and is looking forward to swapping one dog collar for another as he is training for ordained ministry:
“Mission in my life is very much through relationships. Building friendships with people I come into contact with, generally through dog walking.
Sharing Jesus tends to happen incredibly organically as befriending people seems to lead to natural conversation and once it’s revealed I’m training for ministry, conversation turns to faith and whether they believe and so on.
It’s a real joy to chat with someone you’ve just met and offer prayer and have them trust you with things going on in their lives.”
Sally shares her home with her beautiful dog, Max, and loves to do craft and generally make the place look more colourful:
“Most people know Max and stop to stroke him. I am community building in my road. Yesterday I held a cake morning in the old folks’ building opposite. It was fabulous! We had some of the local families come in with their kids, which the older folks LOVED. Today I’ve been delivering cake to the housebound people who couldn’t attend. Still got a freezer full left!
I guess I accept people, I listen to them and their stories and needs, I try to care for them and offer support and practical help, I offer to pray with/ for them.
I suppose I am an evangelist with a very pastoral heart. I don’t preach, or tell people what to do, but I do talk about Jesus’ love for them when it feels right to do so.”
Emily is a vegetarian, with dodgy eyesight, two house bunnies and a beloved pet tortoise. She loves to take the kids to the seaside before school for breakfast:
“This evening we have the neighbours coming round for dinner. We will likely include saying grace, and conversation may well include that we have been up early and praying, or what we did at the weekend, and include church…. But equally, it may just include letting them feel loved, offering to pray about any situation that arises, and letting them know we love our neighbours.
I think reading Gods word is key, and I particularly love the Message paraphrase of the Bible as a delicious easy way to dip your toe in.
I try to keep a copy Bible in my bag, use it, highlight it, and I may quote a verse or read some out after conversation about faith / my cross tattoo / my view of life.
My favourite verses are Romans 12 v 1-2 in the Message. People are often shocked when they hear such everyday language being referred to as the Bible!
I tell them that the Bible was written for everyday people, and shouldn’t be so full of ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ that it becomes a hurdle to hearing the gist of what God is sharing …
If they seem interested I say they can have my Bible.
I’ll put a wee kind note in the front and maybe suggest a good book to start on, and how to use it.
I often suggest things like “I’ll tell you what, why don’t you try secretly praying for two weeks and just see what happens?” and let God do the rest…”
Graeme is a youth worker and rugby fan, who honestly recognises the struggle of being around church all the time and how sometimes sharing faith is in the small things:
“Mission…Right now in my life it looks like stopping to chat to a homeless man from church who never remembers who I am.
It looks like trying be a positive presence in my rugby club, encouraging rather than berating.
It looks like having friends round for board games.
It looks like picking a piece of litter up in the street.
It looks like coffee with a friend who’s having a rubbish time at work.
Most of the time I struggle with working out when to speak and when to be silent, when to be Jesus and when to mention his name too. And not being in a constant rush, so that I can see and respond to the opportunities rather than beat myself up about missing them afterwards!”