Think Friday: Introducing Donna

We are delighted to introduce you to Donna Jennings, our new Church & Missions Coordinator. Below Donna shares some of her thoughts on mission and her hopes for the church in Northern Ireland.

It can be a bit ‘chicken and egg’ – which comes first? Which one should (in theory) or does (in practice) take priority? Does the church exist for mission? Or is mission one strand of wider church life?

What is mission? How do Northern Irish churches define and shape our understanding and outworking of mission? How do we navigate missional engagement to and within the rapidly changing culture around us?

Defined too narrowly, mission emerges as a detached appendix to church life, for those who are ‘called’. Defined too broadly, mission vanishes into the vagueness of everything, anything… and nothing.

An uninformed engagement with culture can run the risk of shirking our faithful-to-Scripture, salty flavor. Yet any missional activity detached from cultural awareness can veer into an equally blunt irrelevance.

Northern Irish culture is rapidly changing. The Northern Irish Church context has also shifted. At such a time as this, the Evangelical Alliance are well placed to offer a new role of Church & Mission Coordinator as we seek to reimagine the relationship between church and mission in Northern Ireland for 2019.

Defining and shaping mission for our changing time and contexts begins with the wider question - not what - but whose mission?

“Mission is understood as being derived from the very nature of God. It is thus put in the context of the doctrine of the Trinity, not of ecclesiology or soteriology. The classical doctrine of the Missio Dei as God the Father sending the Son, and God the Father and the Son sending the Spirit is expanded to include yet another “movement: Father, Son and Holy Spirit sending the church into the world.”i

The local church is the primary locus of God’s ongoing work of restoring, renewing, transforming and reconciling all things to Himself in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ. We, as His Church, move into His world, to participate in His mission, proclaim His Son, led and empowered by His Spirit.

Mission is not an activity that we do. Mission is intrinsically woven into to our identity, purpose, formation and being as the people of God. Mission:Church… chicken:egg.

And Northern Ireland? What are the missional imperatives, challenges and opportunities facing our diverse networks of churches, who grapple with a wide range of contexts and concerns?

As we meet with, and listen to church and parachurch leaders around Church & Mission, the Evangelical Alliance seek to resource and equip local churches and Christians to think deeply, walk wisely and speak hopefully in our Northern Irish culture and contexts:

1) to reimagine a faithfully-relevant missional identity and message in our changing culture;

2) to shape an informed missional response to current, often contentious issues in society;

3) to inspire unity as together, we creatively proclaim the fullness of the good news in the public sphere;

Do you love Jesus and want others to encounter Him?

Do you love the Church and want to see it thrive?

Do you love the Public Square and want to see Christians flourish there?

We do… and we believe this is the core of our united participation in God’s mission:

1) The person of Jesus present, active, speaking in His church.

2) The Church present, active, speaking in His world.

i David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1991, pp. 389-390.