Co-Mission and World Mission
Our Co-Mission website will tell you that we have ‘A Passion for Planting, for London, for Christ’. It also explains, ‘We’re named after Jesus’ great commission to make disciples of all nations. And we believe the best way we can do this in London is by planting churches.’
By God’s grace, our network of churches is growing, with currently more than thirty. Several church plants are specifically aimed at people of different cultures, of all nations: Inter Londres, the Spanish-speaking fellowship in Stockwell and Slavic Christian Fellowship. All Nations Church Barkingside & Clayhall and Mosaic Multicultural Church are among those working hard to be accessible to people from every language and culture.
But how can each local church, and every follower of Jesus, become involved in making disciples of all nations? Doesn’t the following mandate from Matthew 28 seem a bit overwhelming?
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19–20).
Rather than panic, we can start by welcoming the nations who live around us. According to government statistics, 14% of the UK population were born outside of the UK. In London the proportion is far greater – around 40% on average, but over 50% in some boroughs. So we have the amazing privilege of interacting with people from many different nations right here on our doorstep. For some reason the Lord has made London extremely multicultural. Mission organisations from around the world have recognised this opportunity and the need, and are generously sending resources here.
Of course, there are two striking barriers: language and culture (or worldview).
There is more we could do to help speakers of other languages access the gospel. Some of our church families are way ahead of others, but we are already seeing some great initiatives: language-specific Bible studies; simultaneous translation on Sundays; printed materials in several languages; plus English conversation practice available through International Cafes and classes.
We also need to think about our own use of language in church services and meetings. We must try to simplify our language, use idioms carefully and make fewer assumptions, as the following examples show:
A French friend of mine came to church some time ago, and heard what I thought was a wonderfully clear sermon. Afterwards he told me that he had understand every single word, but not the meaning.
More recently a Mexican friend came to church. She said that she was amazed to realise for the first time that the Lamb – a term used a lot in the Catholic masses of her childhood – was referring to Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
Let’s pray for more experiences like the latter and less of the former, as we seek to make the meaning of God’s Word clear. Our model should be this:
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read (Nehemiah 8:8).
What about our second major barrier – a different culture or worldview?
Our culture and worldview affect the way we see, hear, understand and relate in so many different ways. Some experts talk about the ‘Cultural Iceberg’ – there’s much more under the surface that we don’t see than the obvious visible differences of temperament, style, expression and preferences.
We can’t all be expected to be cultural experts. However, cultural sensitivity and competence can no longer be seen as something for the expert, or for the professional cross-cultural missionary. In our beautifully multicultural city it has to be a concern for every Christian and every pastor.
An excellent starting point is to read 3D Gospel – Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures by Jayson Georges. This book is a great introduction to understanding how Western cultures emphasise the forgiveness of sins but people from the majority world seek honour or spiritual power. Wonderfully the Bible relates to all cultures, so we can preach confidently that Jesus’ sacrifice does forgive our sins and declare us innocent of any charges; that Jesus took away our shame, replacing it with honour we don’t deserve; and that the Father has given his Son authority above every other authority, power and dominion, or any other name that can be invoked (Ephesians 1:21).
So let’s do our best to respond to the great commission of Matthew 28 by welcoming those around us who come from other nations and with different worldviews.
There is, of course, an even broader mandate in Acts 1:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth
Being witnesses to the ends of the earth can’t always be done without leaving home. Co-Mission churches are currently supporting and engaging with around 120 mission partners serving in more than thirty countries across the globe. It’s a wonderful privilege to walk with them in their ministries, praying regularly, helping practically and supporting financially.
This year alone we’ve had the joy of sending three mission partners out on new assignments, all working among unreached people groups. There are currently up to twenty others actively exploring serving overseas. We would love to encourage them as they seek to discern God’s will for them, and then work together to support them if they go.
The Acts 1 mandate – like that of Matthew 28 – can seem a bit overwhelming, but there is more we would love to do, with Gods help.
The first and last verses of this traditional missionary hymn capture the situation well:
Facing a task unfinished
that drives us to our knees,
a need that, undiminished,
rebukes our slothful ease,
we who rejoice to know you
renew before your throne
the solemn pledge we owe you
to go and make you known.
O Father, who sustained them,
O Spirit, who inspired,
Saviour, whose love constrained them
to toil with zeal untired,
from cowardice defend us,
from lethargy awake!
Forth on Thine errands send us
to labour for Thy sake.
(written by Frank Houghton)
Let’s pray that the Father would sustain us, the Spirit inspire us and the love of the Lord Jesus compel us as we seek to make disciples of all nations, both here and to the ends of the earth.
Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New International Version, Anglicized Edition, NIV®. Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.