Mission and Ministry in English for Everyone
Ministry in English has a significant role to play. It presents itself as a fantastic place to start from though not necessarily a place where we end up at. English-speaking ministry becomes a beacon where people of all languages but with some proficiency in English are able to gather, enjoy fellowship and grow in a loving Christian community. Many of these places are simply not large enough or do not have the resources to have congregations in many different languages but English, the language of commerce, aviation and increasingly education becomes a valuable tool in the hands of God for mission at this time.
In the same way that the Pax Romana created an ideal context for the Gospel to spread in first century Europe and the Middle East, today English creates huge opportunities for people travelling for work, education, relaxation, migration or for other reasons.
The challenge is that we do not stop there and many of our chaplaincies quietly develop other language ministry which meets the specific needs of the groups of people that attend. It is often amusing when over coffee you hear other languages being spoken by various groups around the room. What we want, what we long for is a church that reaches out to many but is sensitive to all.
I spent a long time thinking how I could express ICS in a simple statement. The one that works best for me is Mission and Ministry in English for Everyone. The fact that we use English is not to be exclusive or to marginalise but rather to open wide the doors and invite in while respecting a person’s right to be a disciple in their own language. We are not there yet, but as the chaplains and others wrestle with the missiological challenge of what’s happening in Europe and beyond, we seek to be a relevant expression of God’s church reaching out to His people.