8 November 2017
In my Minister’s Letters this year, I’m unpacking the “Values” in St Michael’s “Vision 2020” statement. Here’s the eighth on the list of things we value:
Globally-minded Christians, connecting with all classes, ages and cultures.
Leviticus 19:15 says, “do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great”. The Proverbs (23:22) remind us, “do not despise your mother when she is old”. And in Acts 10:34-35, Peter said, “I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts people from every nation who fear him…”
Every church’s vision and value statements evolve over time. That’s even been true over my 13 years here. But “global-mindedness” is a long-standing element of St Michael’s missional direction. The phrase was certainly in the vision statement before I arrived.
More importantly, it’s been truly valued for many decades. There’s a strong tradition of supporting CMS missionaries to go across the oceans to teach the gospel and to show Christ’s love in other parts of the globe.
The late, loved George Carfield is one example! …A missionary in Nepal from 1969-1978. But right till his death in 2015, still encouraging young generations at Night Church, and passionately concerned for the Christian cause overseas, most notably in Zimbabwe’s troubles.
Think on to Joe and Sue, and D. (with L.) and now S. (with K.) who spent formative times at St Michael’s and have gone to serve across cultures. And I’m glad to see often 50+ people from here at CMS Summer School.
We have been globally minded locally too. Regional cross-cultural ministries in the Illawarra were based onsite here, for example, migrant resettlement services helping many Balkan refugees. Locally there have been past ministries to Spanish speakers, with San Miguel for some decades, and also Dinka speakers from Sudan. And now we have our wonderful, decades old, English For Life classes continuing, and the new Easy English congregation at 11am giving so much encouragement, as the nations come to us.
But there’s more we could do! Can you imagine an afternoon English class, simultaneously with a homework club for kids from NESB, and someone manning the coffee machine for those coming? We can. But can we find the volunteers to sustain it?
So at the most practical level, can you begin or keep supporting CMS with finances and prayer? And can you invite overseas students, refugees and other migrants into your home for hospitality? And would you like to volunteer for a globally-minded ministry?
But note the value statement also mentions class. So I’m glad to see among us recovering drug addicts, the formerly homeless, and never finished school. But according to the last NCLS, 57% of adults at St Michael’s have a tertiary degree! That’s not true of the wider ‘Gong! Of course, like attracts like. But those of us in the majority must take special care to include – really welcome – those who are different. God has no favourites!
As for age, I always love to see church members talking with people of other ages. It’s one of the rare community settings where this can happen regularly.
But I also repeat my challenge:
- Visit one of the other congregations at St Michael’s a couple of times a year, to remind yourself that your preferred way of doing things, musically or in terms of ‘vibe’, is not the only way!
Remember God has no favourites! Value this diversity.
Warmly in Christ,