Sunday, 14 December 2008

Hans Ruedi Weber and my understanding of mission

I gave a 10 minute presentation on my understanding of mission this week. My basic idea was that mission is about vision, conviction and two-way story telling.

I decided not to do a power point presentation but to use props instead - I'm still not sure that this was quite the right thing to do, but I wanted to make the point that we already have all the tools and technology for mission - and those tools are the people of God reading God's word, interpreting and acting on it together. When Hans Ruedi Weber explains a particular method in his book Experiments with Bible Study - which requires people to remember together images of the church in the new testament and then make a sketch of each them - he says that of course you can do this with an overhead projector, paper and markers but also says that he also used it in Indonesia where the mains tools to hand were sand and sticks and this worked just as well. The great thing about the method is that it uses the Bible people have within them and that this is triggered by the remembered Bible others have - it's the coming together of these versions that can create our picture of the whole - it's also clear that this is not about having a mission but about "being" mission.
Anyway my three props for my presentation were a pair of glasses, a pair of sandals and a stone.
The glasses were about mission needing vision, about seeing things afresh, about how perspectives change depending on your viewpoint. But I think vision is also about advocacy about trying to change the way people see things, as well as perhaps seeing things from their point of view.
The sandals were about the process and pilgrimmage aspects to mission. Sandals may seem a bit hackneyed but I chose them for the images of setting out, of walking to follow Christ who walked - there's something quite important about speed there, going forwards but at a speed where others can still keep up with you. The sandals also speak about trying to walk in other people's shoes, about how uncomfortable that can be, about how shoes rub our feet. Sometimes we want everything to be comfortable, yet perhaps we are more in mission when we are up against the rub.
The rock was about content and conviction, about the reason for mission, about the gospel, the good news, the word. But that content is complex - it's about Christ as both cornerstone and stumbling block; it's also about the people being called and encouraged to see that they are living stones.

I'm still not really sure that this presentation worked - particularly not in this reduced blog format - but I want an evolving and becoming understanding of mission not a beautifully framed and perfect definition.
Then of course after I've given my presentation I got sent this international poll in a computer-generated translation from the Danish. Between the mis-translations the poll seems to suggest that a majority of people in the survey do not support the idea of people trying to convert others to their religious beliefs.
Perhaps in the end all that we can do in our post-modern world is throw down stories and experiences next to one another. Parables are what Jesus told, perhaps we just have to dare to walk with folk and do the same.

1 Comment:

Luca Maria Negro said...

Hi Jane! Have you got by chance an illustration of the catechism for illiterates made by Hans-Ruedi Weber in Luwuk, Indonesia?