Each Missional Community should share in the core values held by the whole church of which it is a part, but each MC also has its own distinct values which shape its identity more specifically. They could be things like a focus on releasing the prophetic, a passion for welcome and hospitality, creativity, or intergenerational involvement – to name but a few.
Whatever we value will always drive and motivate everything else we do. Hence the saying ‘We do what we value, and value what we do.’ One of the topics we have asked our writers to blog about is on giving some examples of the values of the MC they lead, and what they look like in practice. Today, Pip Martin on MCs for Internationals.
I’ve been part of and led several Missional Communities for international students, each with a slightly different focus. They’ve all had similar visions and values, lived out in different ways.
One of the common values was a desire to honour the different cultures that people came from. It’s easy to feel disconnected from home when you’re in another country. You’re surrounded by people who don’t know anything about what it’s like to live in Spain, or Zimbabwe, or India, and a lot of them don’t really care to find out. We made a point of getting to know some of the home cultures of people in our community and made sure we celebrated them too. We did this in a few simple ways:
We asked questions. How would you celebrate your birthday at home? Do you do anything for Christmas? What? What food do you miss most? What kind of house did you live in? Once, our meeting fell on the day before Halloween, which led to a great conversation about a South Korean Harvest Festival and Day of the Dead in Mexico.
We ate together. Often this went hand in hand with a celebration and we always asked about the story behind what we were eating, whether it was birthday cake, a big Colombian feast, German Christmas treats or simply the soup someone’s grandma always made.
We prayed. If there was something going on in someone’s life back home (Dad having an operation, sister looking for a job, presidential elections etc) we prayed. Not everyone was comfortable with being prayed for there and then but we would make sure to pray about it as team. One of the Missional Communities asked a different person each month to tell everyone a little bit about their country, including anything they’d like prayer for and then the whole group prayed for Colombia or the USA or wherever.
I loved being part of these Missional Communities – I learned so much about different countries (and enjoyed lots of yummy food!) and I hope we helped some international students feel known and welcomed in Sheffield.
Have you done anything similar? Do you have any ideas for other ways to do this?
Pip Martin lives in Sheffield and works for 3dm UK as Operations Manager. She has led several Missional Communities with a heart for internationals.