Some common preconceptions

Below are a few challenging ideas we have found can come up when starting to engage more in local mission, and some tips for dealing with them.

Our first and foremost piece of advice however will always be to trust your judgement: you know your congregation best!

Working through challenging ideas

'We don’t have the time to give to community mission - 20% of the people will end up doing 80% of the work.'

  • Reaffirm God’s calling to care for our neighbours
  • Explain that taking on local mission would be a shift in the lifestyle of the church – not just taking on a project – it should be a slow, organic and relational approach

'Our job is evangelism, not social work'

  • Point to biblical teaching about faith and deeds
  • Discuss Jesus’ priorities? Shouldn’t the call of Christians be to do as Jesus did? Look at Luke 4:18-20 and Luke 10:27.

'I don’t want my children badly influenced by other people who come into the community'

  • Explain that the church isn’t club. In fact, it’s the only club that exists for the sole purpose of those outside of it.
  • Just like church itself, community is messy and imperfect. God calls us to love messy and imperfect people, just as he has loved us.

'Why should we help when some people are just going on benefits because they are lazy'

  • This is about judgement and perceptions of poverty – many people who have not experienced poverty or know someone who has, cannot understand the complexities of why that person is living in poverty. In the case of homelessness, a Salvation Army survey revealed that most people asked believed people were homeless because of drugs or alcohol. Whereas they found that 43 per cent of homelessness is caused by relationship breakdown. Share this study and ask people to discuss.
  • Ask people to share what they see as the root causes of poverty, and unpick this together as a group.

'We’re just not skilled enough to tackle such big issues'

  • Remind people that just as in the case of Moses, and the disciples too, God often calls the least likely and least equipped to do his work. He meets them in their weakness and makes them strong.
  • Different people have different callings. Some to politics to speak out at a higher level on issues they care about. Some may be called to form filling with their refugee neighbour. All are vital to doing God’s work. Consider the Bible’s teaching in 1 Corinthians on the church as the body of Christ.
  • Encourage the group that they won’t be doing it alone. They will be getting input from as many people as possible, including the local community, to get informed before embarking on local mission.

'Some people in church are bound to just take charge and…’

  • Crucial to the success of your church’s local mission is to choose a facilitator. This person (or a few people) will be chosen for their personality and skills to ensure everyone is listened to.
  • Understand that local mission works when everyone in the church and community is behind it, so it shouldn’t be a case of one strong-voiced group charging in with their agenda.
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