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- Page 8

  • Puzzling

    So, two evenings, two missionary events for two major mission organisations, and in total only around fifity people present.  That is puzzling.

    Monday's was pretty small-scale, it was our link missionary coming to talk to the four churches with whom he is linked.  Two dozen (or so) people wasn't massive, but sat together in our place there was a feeling of a reasonable 'audience.'  Last night's was part of a big national tour with two international speakers and yet it, too, attracted only around two dozen people (more in total present because of the helpers and staff).

    I think the questions that arise for me are...

    • why is it so few people go along to these events?
    • how successful are they in generating support - and more specifically financial support?

    Is it that people now have such easy access to information via the Internet, and even by ordinary news media, that what the mission organisations have to say is not really news?  Is it that people feel they've heard it all before, because actually most of the time nothing much changes?  I can recall the genuine excitement years back when the cure for leprosy was found, but now we still hear of stigma, rejection, prejudice and new cases in the poorest areas... do people feel that this is 'old news'?

    Most of the people who go along to missionary events are those who already support the organisations; I suspect that the retiring offerings tend to be the same people digging just a little deeper into the same pockets to support the causes they already care about.  Thinking of those I knew who were there the last couple of nights from my church, they included a former TLM nurse and a former BMS missionary... we go because this is part of our story too.

    So I'm puzzled.  Puzzled as to what we really see as the purpose of the missionary visit/event, puzzled as to how we persuade people to come along who aren't already committed, puzzled as to what might be more effective in terms of education and fundraising.

    TLMs canapes were very posh and very tasty, whilst our home-baking was simply scrummy; both were abundant... I've been well fed the last couple of evenings even if I'm still a tad puzzled.

  • Other: Please Specify

    I have just completed an online questionaire that was collecting, amongst other things, religious affiliation.  The options for Christianity were:

    • Christian: Church of Scotland
    • Christian: Roman Catholic
    • Christian: other please specify

    I think what struck me was that if, for example, you were Muslim you weren't required/desired to indicate whether Sunni or Shia or if you were Jewish there was no need to state orthodox, liberal or reformed.  So I think I may have to stop being a Baptist and be an 'other please specify' instead.  All of which vaguely reminds me of a tale I heard of church parade of National Servicemen (I think) which ran something like this: 'Catholics to the right, Anglicans to the left, Methodists and other fancy religions stand fast.'

  • Cross-Cultural Mish-Mash Maybe?

    Yesterday our BMS link missionary came for the evening, and folk from four churches gathered to hear about the work he and his wife are involved with in Bulgaria.  Given it was such a lovely evening and a Bank Holiday to boot, it was great to have around two dozen people.  I thought he seemed weary - physically, emotionally and possibly even spiritually - but it was interesting to learn something of the project with which he and his family have been involved.  The post-talk food was fantastic and everyone should have gone home a size larger as a result.

    This evening there is a TLM event just up the road from us, and as we also support this organsiation I am intending to go along.  Because it's in the Episcopal (Anglican) cathedral it's all a bit more posh than our event last night but it should be very interesting.  However, I'm told I am not allowed to utter the words 'misisonary' or 'mission partner' because they are now (at least within this organisation) termed 'cross cultural workers.'  There is good logic for this, especially in the areas where TLM is active and things can be sensitive.  Alas the phrase 'cross cultural worker' will never have the romantic appeal of 'misisonary' complete with its image of the pith helmet and big, black Bible.

    Checking my emails, there was one from someone writing a piece on Baptists who blog in Scotland as part of a BUS publication looking at technology and IT in churches.  It was interesting, because it picked up some of the threads that I explored in a paper for the Baptist Minister's Journal more than year ago, and some of the questions addressed in BUGB Top Tips leaflets such as Blogging Yor Church. There's kind of a cross-cultural thing here, I think... crossing Hadrian's or the Antonine wall... or the IT-phile/IT-phobe divide... or something.

    In the same email was an invitation to participate in an embryonic gathering of Baptist women ministering in Scotland... I have to choose the words carefully here!  Most are Scots, some are not; I am ordained, others are not and may not be.  In replying I alluded to the VIKs (Vicars in Knickers) thing we tried in Leicestershire, and have already found myself cross-culturing this to become McVIKs/MacVIKs (opinions seem to vary on which is the Irish and which the Scottish variant)... and a hint that it ought to be serving McVickies biscuits!!  Afterall, we served 'clustered creams' at the Dibley and District Baptist cluster.

    Now I must go and write my sermon for Sunday's service which is focussing on BMS and employing the parable of the sower/soils found in Luke's gospel. An idea of where to go with it came to me as I walked to church this morning... so we'll see what happens.