Does Summer means 6 weeks off from being a Missionary?
We’ve nearly made it to the end of another school year. Last night our team celebrated their final Kidz Klub before the summer holidays. They’ve worked hard and it is rightly time to look back and celebrate what God has done and look forward to a break from some of the tasks. So does that mean the team take six weeks off from being missionaries?
Rest is not the opposite of mission.
Yes some of the tasks will stop, yes it is rightly a time for slower rhythms of life, but no we don’t stop being missionaries. If we think mission equals events then we need to take a break from constant activity, hence stopping Kidz Klub for the summer. But as we learn mission is not just event but lifestyle, we have discovered that rest is an important part of our mission.
If we embrace slower rhythms of life while remaining embedded in our community then we don’t take 6 weeks off from being missionaries, we have 6 weeks of being missionaries summer style.
What might it look like for you and your community to be summer style missionaries? Here are a couple of suggestions to get you thinking. Of course you know your group best and will need to think creatively about what works for your context.
- Meet in the Park
In term time I meet with local parents and toddlers for a stay and play type group. Over the summer instead we are meeting at a local cafe followed by a local play park.
Think creatively about when and where you meet out over the summer.
- Using your gardens
Sit around together on a summer evening in a garden with low structure. Time to remind ourselves what God has done in the past year and dream about the future. Time to catch up with each other and the things the matter to each of us. This is my plan for our gathering tomorrow evening.
Perhaps pick a night of the week you will gather informally in a garden to have a drink, pray and catch up.
- Walk the Streets
In the holidays we’re going to make sure we include some time outside around our neighbourhood with our daughter each day. Nothing radical here, nothing hard work here, but surprisingly easy not to get round to.
The long light evenings make this a great time of year to walk around the block after work and before dinner. Catch up with neighbours you know or make new friends.
What is your tendency?
Some groups seek to sustain the life by continuing as if nothing has changed. The danger is these groups over stretch themselves with fewer resources during the summer weeks and arrive at September exhausted. If this is your current plan think carefully about how you can make your gatherings more lightweight. There are likely to be some things you need to not do. Make sure you have less events to organise over the summer.
Or do you stop entirely? This can leave people lonely and isolated, particularly those not in nuclear families or on the edge of the community. If you recognise this then think about what are the lightweight ways you could maintain relationships. Make sure you have some times of rest where others know that they are invited and welcome to join you.
Rest is a vital component of a missional lifestyle – how will you and your community be missionaries summer style?
Jenny Irvine, together with her husband Gareth and young daughter Jessica, lead a missional community base called Saint Aidan’s in the north of the city of Coventry. They’ve taken a small team of young adults with them, to live as in incarnational community focused around prayer and mission. They are currently involved in Kidz Klub which works with children from challenging housing estates, and visit about 30 families each week on the estate where they live.