This week's guest blog comes from Max Beers, the chair of the missions team at Ocean Hills Covenant Church. Uffizi Order worked with Ocean Hills from 2014 - 2015 to build and equip the missions team, which successfully launched a literacy program at Franklin School in the fall of 2015.
My name is Max and I have been working with Jeff Shaffer for a few years now, developing and growing sustainable missional initiatives for my church community. It was about two years ago when a small group from Oceanhills Church partnered with Uffizi and began discussing good reasons for why we believe and live the way we do as followers of Jesus. Jeff began shaping our perspective on missions in ways that were not only faithful to biblical truths, but also that served to help us understand the relevant issues both in the theoretical process and in the practical application.
For Jeff, missions is two-fold. One, it has to be sustainable. Real redemptive mission work is rarely systemically effective when done for a weekend. I’m not suggesting that Jeff is limiting God’s redemptive powers, because God can do whatever God wants to do. Rather, I'm emphasizing the need for intentional and continual participation in that redemptive work with the Spirit of God restoring value to this world. Two, missions is never a one-way fix. For Jeff, missions is a way to empower a community to equally participate together. Granted, one group may have greater access to resources in a particular situation, but again real restorative work happens when one group is not enabled or marginalized by another. It is not about the “haves” and the “have-nots”, rather “we’re in this together”.
In all of this, the desired result is not for each Church to be carbon copies of each other serving in the exact same way, but instead for them to be able to think in critical and integrated ways, with a spirit of discernment, on the needs in their community along with the available resources, talents and gifts in their churches. As Christians we should be able to weigh any issue, any mission field, in light of the full story of the Bible and understand how to appropriately respond, both in sustainability and in empowerment.
I believe that the big story of the Bible is that the Creator God is working to reclaim creation, and we are invited to participate in that restoration. The mentorship with Jeff and partnership with Uffizi is my attempt to do that: to invite the Church community into the story, and to encourage them to live it out faithfully and consistently.