Program or Presence?

Read through these two stories where an individual is reflecting on their project’s mission & service activities, and as you go, notice:

  • What are the differences between them?
  • What do you notice about the language used in each reflection?
  • What is the intention or goal behind each project’s activity?

Story one

“Wednesday night we’ve got the Men’s shed group. Thursday is a Mums’ playgroup in the morning and the evening is a community dinner. The weekends are packed as well with two Sunday services and a youth group Friday & Saturday night. Over the last few years we’ve really increased our engagement with the community, and almost every day we are running this program or that. It’s very busy, but I feel it’s important to be serving the local community. Our building has lot of life in it, and that feels good.”

Story two

“Before we built this new building, we spent a long time looking at potential sites. One of the reasons we chose this one, was because it was only a block away from the town centre. People drive past us every day. There is an apartment block next door, and a school down the road. A few people from our congregation have become friends with parents from the school, just by being here at drop off time. There is a great farmers market on during the weekends, and some of our community are growers who have stalls. We often meet up for coffee with some of the other stall holders towards the end of the market. I’m fairly new to town, but I feel really at home here. It is a good community.”


  • What do you understand by the word: mission?
  • What is the purpose or goal for any congregation seeking to be involved in mission?
  • Have you ever been a participant in a community engagement program, or the recipient of a community service? What were some of the things that helped you to feel valued and respected in those processes?
  • How does your participation in your communities gatherings and mission relate or connect to the rest of your life?

Wisdom from the pews

““I don’t see church growth as bums on seats, I see it as a measure of the churches’ impact on the local community.” This quote represents a social justice and relational focus on mission that characterises many communities. ”

“There is value in exploring the deeper motivations, intentions and hopes behind missional activity to avoid the less than ideal ‘ticking the box’ approach.”

“ It’s commonly accepted that ‘with’ relationships are stronger than ‘for’ or ‘to’ relationships. All relationships can be a positive vehicle for spiritual growth and this is especially true when relationships are characterised by authenticity. There is real strength in participants who see the integration of their work and family and ‘church’ life, and are willing to have relationships and conversations across all three.”

Going deeper

Missio Dei

Missio Dei is a Latin theological term that can be translated as “Mission of God”, it refers to the work of the church as being part of God’s work. Discover more here: