News and Articles
13 October 2016
After a great GlobalFest weekend celebrating what God is doing around the world, Ian Castro writes about global mission and Above Bar Church.
Then and now
For many decades – well over half-a-century – Above Bar Church has been committed to fulfilling Jesus’s final commission to his disciples to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). This has meant sending and supporting church members whom God has called to full-time missionary work in other nations, usually in partnership with one of the major evangelical, interdenominational missionary agencies.
Within our congregation, we have a number of retired missionaries (aged anywhere between 65 and 95!) who have worked in many countries on a number of continents. They include Biddy Taylor, Margie Hurst and Keir Hansford in the photo below, who worked in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Ghana respectively. Some of these retired missionaries still remain active in mission work from within Southampton, not least in persistent prayer. Perhaps you could join them?
This pattern continues, so we currently have many individuals and couples working as Sent Mission Partners (SMPs) and thus involved in mission activity in Asia, Africa or Europe. It is a great privilege to be part of a church which takes the commission of Jesus so seriously that it is committed to seeing some of its people living in different and sometimes very difficult cultures in order to make Him known. And it is wonderful to be able to rejoice regularly at what God is doing through our SMPs across the world. Are you in regular touch with at least one of them?
How it works
What determines whether someone becomes a Sent Mission Partner and how they should be supported? Over the years, there has been much thinking about this. Our mission policy has been through several versions in the light of the church’s developing convictions about what it means to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’. The current edition was finalised in 2012. This World Mission Policy document remains required reading for all Above Bar Church members! It outlines:
- the biblical basis of all mission
- our mission commitments as a church
- the principles of mission service
- the way the church selects and supports its SMPs
In contrast to earlier versions, it emphasises that mission concerns the whole of creation (it is holistic, involving both spiritual and physical) and that mission involves all of God’s people. The document also lays out in some detail:
- how SMPs are supported
- how short term teams on mission trips should operate
- how information about SMPs' work is shared with the wider church
This important document also explains the World Mission Strategy Group (WMSG), which:
- continually reflects on global mission in the light of developments in the world-wide church
- considers how such developments should be reflected in Above Bar Church’s mission policy and practice
- works to identify those whom God is calling to be set apart for mission service, whether short- or long-term
What of the future?
The world has changed in many ways since 2012 – and so has the world-wide church. You might even have noticed changes within Above Bar Church! The World Mission Strategy Group has therefore been refining the vision and strategy for our global mission. Three clear streams are now being encouraged:
- church planting and building in continental Europe
- evangelism among unreached people groups, particularly those from outside Europe
- training and equipping for strategic ministries overseas
An old minister of mine used to say that if God is not clearly calling you to stay here, you should be going overseas. (Consider!) Billions across the world have still never heard of Jesus, nor are within easy reach of someone who has.
The strategy group is also considering a paper by Tim Sutton, our recently-left minister for global mission. Among other things, this highlights the importance of engaging in international ministry without even leaving Southampton. Hence the recent development of Above Bar Church ministries like Global Gathering and the English Language Café conversation classes. There are people from over 135 nationalities living, working or studying in Southampton. Many of them are from ‘unreached people groups’. How many of them are you befriending for Christ’s sake?
May we all continue to be sensitive about where God is leading us both individually and collectively in global mission.
Read more about Our vision for mission »