I’ve been involved for a few years now with an inter-church youth work in our town. Perhaps the biggest challenge it has given me is “on what basis can a shared, inter-church, mission take place?”
Our natural tendency is to want to own the mission that we are involved in, and similarly if we are funding something we also want to own it and have a good deal of say in how that mission happens. When stakeholders are from different churches they might feel different things about how mission should work and they might feel different pressures from those in their churches, so it is perhaps more difficult to reconcile differences and come to agreement over what should happen.
I think that what an inter-church mission can be is:
- A resource.
- A part of reducing divides between different churches.
- An invitation to work in a way that has the side effect of breaking down division.
- A challenge to work with people we do not necessarily see eye to eye with.
- An opportunity to learn submission.
- An opportunity to fit into a jigsaw over which we do not have control.
- A way of learning to accept what others have to give, without pushing them to give what we think they should.
Perhaps our biggest challenge is to give up some of the control mechanisms that we are used to having in our smaller, individual churches. This does make us more vulnerable to the actions of others, but perhaps we are also becoming more vulnerable to God and his will as we learn to relinquish our own ideas!
I do find it scary and I’m convinced there is a lot, lot more to learn about this. I feel like a fearful newbie to be honest, but at least I can look back and see the work God has enabled so far.