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Men from the local community at the opening of the Deception Bay Men’s Shed in September 2014. Photo by Joy Killey.
Men from the local community at the opening of the Deception Bay Men’s Shed in September 2014. Photo: Joy Killey

Making a vision for mission

Why do you do the things you do? Ashley Thompson talks to Ashgrove West and Deception Bay Uniting Churches about how to cultivate a mission-orientated church culture.

Whether you realise it or not every church has a culture. Framed by the vision, values and systems of its members, this culture is often buried beneath the reflexive answer “That’s just the way we do things around here”, but putting your church culture into words can be a powerful guide to mission.

Ashgrove West Uniting Church member Calvin Hanton describes his church’s vision for mission as: “very broad, very active and quite prepared to be hands on if it’s within the abilities of our members.”

The outworking of this vision was seen last December, when the Hanton family responded to a call in the Queensland Synod weekly email newsletter Uniting News.

“We heard that Teddies without Borders were desperately short of gifts for kids in detention centres,” says Calvin, “So a number of families, and the congregation both here and in Deception Bay, purchased around about 180 bears and we had them donated and delivered in under five days.”

The unique structure of Ashgrove West, which has not had a minister in placement for close to four years, allowed for quick action and flexibility in responding to the needs of others.

“We give whenever we can, whenever it is needed,” Calvin explains. “I believe this culture was intentionally created by a number of our church members who have strong backgrounds in overseas mission work and working for the church in rural areas.”

Similarly, just north of Brisbane, Deception Bay Uniting Church holds a strong evangelistic outlook, offering a wide range of community-based ministries including their kids’ club and recently opened Men’s Shed.

“It’s basically about trying to make connections with the community,” says Men’s Shed coordinator and congregation elder David Killey.

“I don’t try to make it religious but for me, and I am sure for other people in our church, the Men’s Shed is an opportunity for people outside the church to see what Christians are about and want to be one,” says David.

Deception Bay Uniting Church has cultivated this culture of missional initiative by supporting and utilising the skills and passions of its members.

They, like their Ashgrove West counterparts, simply “see a need and fill that need” because others who have gone before them have paved the way.

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