Church of England Diocese of Rochester St. Augustine, Gillingham

Food For Thought

What Mission Means to Me

Peter Wareing 19 August 2020

I was asked to write a blog on ‘What Mission Means to Me’ as something that could be put up on our A Church Near You site at St Augustine’s.

I thought I’d start by saying that this reflection is straight from the heart, with no theology or big words in there! I could have looked online for some definitions of mission, but I haven’t.

My view of mission has changed over the years, from a ‘going overseas to developing countries and helping’ model, to realising that mission starts with you, where you are now, in your local church. So, what mission means to me is very simple:

• Engaging with the whole person where they are, in the present moment and,

• Engaging with the whole of God’s creation, to try to bring to where he intends it to be.

How did Jesus do it? He saw people where they were, and understood and met their physical, emotional and spiritual needs: the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-42), the paralysed man at Capernaum (Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, Luke 5:17-26), the demon-possessed man at Gadara (Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39). As far as I can tell, the only pattern Jesus followed was to so understand people that he knew what they needed; sometimes he preached, to small or large groups (by a lake (Mark 4:1-9, then 10-20 to his disciples), sometimes he engaged with an individual, for example Nicodemus (John 3:1-20).

So, what do I mean by engaging with the whole person? I guess if I look at some of the things that we have being doing at St Augustine’s and then what we could do, in our local space, that might explain it a bit more.

Over the past 18 months or so, we have run a Place of Welcome (POW) in church, a place anyone from the local community can come and have a chat, a cup of tea, a biscuit or a cake, do a jigsaw, knit or other crafts. Church members listen, chat, have a laugh, strike up friendships with those who come along. We have musical and other events at church where we invite our friends. We have hosted ‘One Stop Shop’ events where local charities and the council come along to offer help and advice for anyone in need.

And what does ‘engaging with the whole of God’s creation’ mean? To me this means care for the environment, supporting charities like the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts, eating responsibly, less meat, food that generates less CO2, uses less water, and harms less land in its production. It could mean keeping the streets around our church clean and setting up a community garden as a place to grow flowers and food and to be a green space place for people to care about.

So, to sum up, what mission mean to me is to try to understand what people and God’s creation need, and to ask God to be one of his instruments in bringing about his new creation.