At the beginning of June, Soul Action in collaboration with Tearfund UK, gathered 48 leaders from across South Africa for a National Consultation on Integral Mission, looking at ‘Life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10).
We began by looking at how Jesus, “…grew in wisdom, stature, and in favour with God and people” (Luke 2:52), and how God sees the ‘potential’ for all people to grow intellectually, physically, spiritually, socially and emotionally. We considered our Christian responsibility to ensure that we, and those we serve with, are growing holistically just like Christ did.
We were blessed with a number of quality speakers which promoted incredible discussion amongst participants. David Westlake, Tearfund’s Director of Integral Mission, spoke about ‘Life on Earth,’ and the need for a wider view of the Kingdom of God involving Integral Mission. Dr Spiwo Xapile and Dr Frederick Marais from Stellenbosch University, brought depth to the conversation with their thoughts about participating in the Missio Dei life of the Trinity; how we work within a plot which is God’s, not ours. Dr Marias’ insight into the kenotic secret of Jesus (Phil 2), how as Jesus’ followers we’re called to innovative voluntary slavery, struck a chord with so many people. He called for a move away from the kind of private spirituality that leads to a ‘me and my Jesus’ view of mission, towards a greater involvement in God’s movement to the world.
Tom Yaccino, who facilitates a network of churches and pro church ministries in Latin America and the Caribbean, spoke on ‘Life in the Church’, how a holistic approach to mission can add value to the body of Christ, and then facilitated discussion on how Integral Mission benefits from networks and churches that build Kingdom partnerships together.
David Westlake, concluded the Consultation with a summary of some of the things highlighted during our conversations that can sometimes restrict the churches ability to be an ‘explosion of joy’ (Newbigin). He felt that greater involvement in God’s mission – with nothing left out – represented an incredible opportunity to address some of these pressures where they occur in South Africa. To do so, David could see the need for a community of support and accountability; a theological framework to help understand and explain what people do; sources of inspiration which keep people going; examples of good practice which celebrate and improve what’s done; and finally a context which is informed, and impacted, by what God is already doing and how people can join in.
David asked participants in this years Consultation if they could imagine being that community – an overwhelming number said yes, and some expressed a desire to be part of a steering group that would seek God’s way forward for Integral Mission in South Africa.