What is mission shaped ministry?

First published 5th February 2015

The Diocese of Bristol in partnership with other local organisations is planning a new mission shaped ministry course to start locally in the autumn. Here Revd Andy Mason explores what we mean by mission shaped ministry...

I often wonder if I'd not grown up in a Christian home, how - or even if - I would have heard about Jesus.

(I believe I might have heard about him, as God's Spirit is always at work in his world, and think its so important that we don't underestimate that.)

Also, I when I was at my furtherest away from God, I had a Christian colleague at work who was prepared (with good humour and love) to talk straight to me about stuff (although to my shame on one occasion I remember telling her to "**** off" but fortunately she didn't!) ...and actually it was through her that  I made a re-commitment a couple of months later when I was 20. (If you're reading this, and you're regularly talking about your faith, don't give up just because it might not always go down well. We don't know what God is doing beneath the surface!)

Anyway, I'm digressing...  Would I have heard about Jesus in my normal everyday life? I'm not sure. I look at church notice boards offering flower festivals, organ recitals and beetle drives... and as a 37-year-old bloke, I don't think I'd be tempted. I have nothing against that sort of thing, its just, well, not my sort of thing.

The night God planted the desire to launch Salisbury Street Pastors in my heart was after I'd been to an Alpha meal with Joel Edwards, president of the Evangelical Alliance (who spoke brilliantly, but no one on the estate I worked in would have known who he was). Then later that evening God gave my heart a bit of a nudge and I ended up walking around Salisbury City at night. I saw drunk kids aged about 15, a homeless lady trying to sleep, a girl sobbing in a doorway... and every church was in darkness, the Cathedral gates were shut and the leading nightclub in Salisbury was a redundant church. What message did this send out to my generation? It seemed to say, Christianity is dead and irrelevant to my generation; something I passionately disagree with with every fibre of my being!

Now, leading Street Pastors in Kingswood, I regularly feel the pain of the internal conflict between the centuries of different cultures - literally worlds apart - between Kingswood at 3am on Saturday morning when the clubs kick out and church at 11am the next day.

Do you agree with me that we have do something? More than that - that God himself is calling us not just to put up with the status quo but wanting us to reach lost people he loves?

I love cross-cultural missionaries, but think as Christians today we don't need to fly half way around the world, when there is a community that doesn't know of Jesus on our doorstep.

"The only thing I know of Jesus is he built an ark," said a young guy I was chatting to once. He hadn't rejected Jesus. He simply had never heard of him. mission shaped ministry is thinking about reaching those people we as Church fail to reach.

mission shaped ministry is not another course for vicars to go on (although would love to see vicars come along) but for everyone who cares about people coming to know Jesus.

Maybe to 'do' Church that works in reaching people who normally don't hear, Church might have to look different?

Perhaps be placed in a different place? Perhaps your work place? Home? Pub? Place you hang out? Wherever?

Maybe we haven't got all the answers, but we are asking the questions and seeking to learn together.

mission shaped ministry is a one-year course (but hopefully a life-time's journey!) one evening a month (and two Saturdays) and a weekend residential, exploring together question about personal evangelism, gospel and culture, spirituality for mission, discipleship, and the mission of God. I believe that through the Holy Spirit, this course could change the lives of literally thousands of people who don't yet know Christ.

Whoever you are and whatever your journey, come along and journey with us for this year, and I believe that God will use you to advance his Kingdom, "more than you can ask or imagine" (Eph 3.20).

I'll end with a quote from the West Wing: "Never doubt that a small group of determined people can change the world, in fact it is the only thing that ever has."

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