Mark Short outlines what a Mission Society should look like, and what it has to do with church.
Long before missionalbecame the favourite adjective for churches wanting to serve on the cutting edge, voluntary societies like The Bush Church Aid Society have defined themselves in terms of mission (early editions of the Society"s Real Australian magazine refer to "Home Missions" in contrast to the "Foreign Missions" supported by other Societies). But what does a commitment to mission look like for us?
First, it is important to recognise that we are not a church. We aren"t a local gathering of God"s people around the Risen Lord Jesus.
But we do have a vital and necessary connection with the church. The thousands of people who express our mission through their prayers, giving and going do so largely because their faith has been awakened and encouraged through one or more churches. In turn BCA needs to ensure that the formation and strengthening of churches is central to what we do. If, as Leslie Newbiggin argued, a healthy local church is one of most powerful demonstrations of the gospel to a sceptical age, then we have no place supporting programs that exist in isolation or independent from a local gathering of believers.
So what disciplines will sustain a healthy partnership between BCA and churches? Let me suggest four: