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Andrew Nixon on the mission

by on September 19, 2012

Well, from the comments received, sounds like not many people share my feeling about the need for an open discussion about the last ten years of diocesan mission.

I don’t feel quite alone, though, because I came across these comments by Andrew Nixon. He was Executive Director of the Connect09 and Connect for Life campaign. I’d say no one in the Diocese has a better idea of how the mission has been going than him. He shares some concerns he has about our diocese’s mission efforts in recent times. He writes:

These are some [of the] broader conclusions that I have come to as I have been forced to think about the big picture over the past two years.

1. The status quo isn’t working. 

2. The fact that so many of us are converted before 20 doesn’t mean we have youth work under control; it means few adults get converted.

3. Churches usually grow by being more attractive to Christians than surrounding churches, rather than by converting unbelievers…

10. Our senior ministers are first class people who we have failed to prepare properly for the mission situation we place them in.

Not everything he has to say is this negative, but these four are pretty devastating aren’t they.

Interesting what he doesn’t say: Nixon nowhere says that the churches are lazy or unmotivated about mission. The picture he paints seems to be, lots of effort, little mission result.

Not that different from the view of the young woman whose story I told in the original post…

Here’s my question: does this assessment call for some soul-searching on our part? Or should we ignore Nixon and just press on?

From → General

  1. Tom Habib permalink

    Well – it all depends as to what we are pressing on to. I seriously wonder for all this “effort” how much people are actually sharing the gospel with others, asking them if they want to read the bible with them, inviting them to church etc.

    I only ask because I see this weakness in myself – and I don’t think I am that much behind all my brothers and sisters in Sydney when it comes to mission.

    Here’s an article Peter Bolt wrote 2 years ago – it says what I want to say in a much better way:

  2. Tom, I had a read of Bolty’s article against ‘pre-evangelism’. I’m guessing he wouldn’t run an Asian Celebration Day!

    I think I’m hearing you suggest that perhaps the reason there’s been lots of effort and little result is because we’re devoting our mission efforts to connecting with people and getting to understand them and building bridges into their lives and developing relationship – all the things Bolty was sceptical of. If we’d spent all that effort on inviting people to listen to the gospel message, maybe the results would have been better. That’s what I think you’re getting at.

    If I’m getting you, then I have to confess, your feeling about the approaches our churches are normally taking is pretty different from mine. I haven’t seen or heard of an excess of relationship-building with local communities, in our Sydney evangelical churches. I think the whole Connect 09 campaign was the Arch-bish’s effort to encourage us in that direction a little?

    However, it’s good that we are now actually having the conversation I was hoping we could start having around here – the one where we ask ‘why has more mission effort not led to more new Christians?’ Thanks for being willing to get into that.

    It’s not surprising if we don’t all see it the same way. Especially at the start of the discussion. But those differences of view-point – they give us something worth talking about.

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