Discovering mission for God’s world

Rev Rob Douglas, Uniting Church WA Presbytery Minister (Mission) reflection on termite mounds across the Kimberley landscape.

Perception can be an interesting thing.

Prior to starting work with the Uniting Church WA, my wife and I were in the Kimberley region in the far north of WA doing a locum ministry with a Baptist church. For well over 12 months, I had been producing good news stories on video for my YouTube channel and blog (inspirenewscast.com) and the Kimberley was a rich source of stories.

I had produced a number of inspirational videos for residents of the Esther Foundation and decided to do a reflection on the termite mounds that dotted the landscape across the Kimberley. I was thinking along the lines of these mounds representing the church and the great work that people were doing in working together. Termites basically chew, spit and poo. Hey presto! They produce a massive mound that serves as a means of climate control for their nests.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there was something wrong with this first perception. Yes, that’s what the church is often like – a safe and secure place where we can work together and achieve our goals – but is that what God has really intended for us? That became the question for the video I finally produced, which you can watch at inspirenewscast.com/2021/08/27/what-about-mound-building

In September this year, I commenced as the Uniting Church WA Presbytery Minister (Mission). I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with congregations within the Presbytery discovering more about God’s mission in the world, and how we can connect with what God is already doing.

Recently, a team of people, organised by the Presbytery of WA’s Thrive Mission Committee, spent a weekend being trained as mission coaches. These people will be available to work with congregations that are seeking to discover the mission God has called them to and help them in their mission journey. I am excited to see the possibilities that will emerge from this training.

Mission has long been the thing that makes me tick. I’ve been a Baptist pastor for nearly 40 years and for about 15 years served as a bivocational pastor. As the name suggests, I served as a pastor part-time and was part of the regular work force for the rest of my time.

Rather than think about my ‘secular’ work as just a way to make money to keep the family alive, I saw everything I did as mission. This gave me a deep sense of purpose and I hope to share this as I carry out my work in the Uniting Church.

Perhaps it comes down to that ‘perception’ thing I talked about earlier. When we are involved in our local church, do we perceive that we are building a termite mound that is safe and warm, where we can work together with our friends? But when we go to work, or look after the grandchildren, play golf, participate in the local Rotary club, study at university, that’s something else altogether?

I have a sense that God has called us to serve in this wonderful world and our purpose is to discover God’s fingerprint in everything that we do.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to go on a journey with you as we together discover God’s mission for us. I’m really hopeful that just as I began to get a different perception of the story of the termite mounds as I thought about what story to tell on video, we can also develop some different perceptions of the nature of the church.

That we can begin to tell stories about a church that is no longer isolated from society like a mound that has been created through the spit and poo of busy termites; but instead, we will have vibrant stories to tell about the Spirit blowing a fresh wind of new life through our local communities.

I look forward to our journey together.

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