Mark Short from the Bush Church Aid Society is spending three weeks with Geneva sharing his insights into country ministry, the assumptions that underpin it and how things will have to change if we're to build thriving congregations in Australia's rural areas. Check below for links to his other posts.
I find it fascinating that people often imagine that issues of justice for our indigenous brothers and sisters are uniquely relevant in the bush, as if the land on which we meet today isn’t also colonised/invaded/stolen.
Having said that ministry in indigenous communities in the bush does or should force us to engage with the issue of genuine partnership.
How can we create sustainable pathways into leadership for ATSI Christians so they are not burdened with almost crippling obligation and expectations?
How can we move beyond paternalism and into a genuine partnership where ministry with and from ATSI Christians is the norm rather than ministry to?
How can we engage the mixed record of our church in this area in a way that both acknowledges the past and does justice in the present? Surely these are vital challenges for all of us.
At BCA we are beginning to learn what God is asking of us in response as we seek to support booth the current and the new generation of indigenous Christian leaders. We would love you to learn with us as we learn from them.
You may have noticed in this presentation that I’ve asked many questions and given few answers.
For now I want us to sit with the questions and the challenges because it’s from here that I believe that we have our best opportunity to strengthen our partnership in the gospel.
I would love to see a network develop around each of these questions, or adaptive challenges that I’ve outlined. Networks that are solidly grounded in God’s word. Networks that reach across Diocesan and cultural boundaries. Networks that are committed to mutual learning and courageous experimentation under God. Networks through which the city and the bush discover they have more in common than they might ever have imagined.
Of course, the real challenges facing the church in the west are not organisational and neither are faithful responses. The key issue is profoundly theological – will we drive our foundations deep into the bedrock of God’s gracious sovereignty revealed in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus? The goodness, the power and the wisdom of God are to be found where our world least expects to see them – in a man condemned to death on a cross. Now, as then, God turns our assumptions on their head.