Q&A: The Connections that Drive Mission

Q&A: The Connections that Drive Mission


Dr. Kandiah is the founding director of Home for Good, a charity seeking to find loving homes for children in the care system. His latest book, God Is Stranger, examines radical hospitality as a route to intimacy with God.

Q: How can we help the UK Church stand with some of the world’s most vulnerable communities (the homeless, elderly, children, refugees, etc.) and demonstrate together the difference that faith is making? 01

Firstly, and most importantly, the priorities of scripture should set the priorities for our church’s life and mission. The Bible is consistently clear about God’s special attention to the poor and vulnerable, especially the widow, the orphan and the stranger. If we pay attention to that, it has to inspire the Church to prioritise sacrificial service on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable.

Secondly, many of us are not naturally exposed to the Church globally. Our churches can be the places that inform and educate Christians about what is happening around the world, as well as inspiring them to pray and take action.

Thirdly, most of us have very little connection to the global Church or helping those living in poverty in our daily lives, work and activities. It is all too easy to set up a standing order, attend a prayer meeting and feel our part is played. But there are ways that the Church can provide catalytic connections so that the average Christian can form genuine, mutually beneficial relationships with those who are suffering—both in our communities and around the world. I’d love to see more church-to-church partnerships where we in the West are receivers as well as givers of wisdom, insight, people and prayer.

Q: How can churches develop meaningful, innovative connections with relevant social justice agendas? 02

We live in a hyper-connected world where it is easier than ever to just travel between continents, but also, thanks to digital innovation, we have instantaneous communication with anyone on the planet who has an internet connection. Sadly, this has not yet had a revolutionary affect on the way that many Christians think about mission. Most Christians still have the misperception that mission is something we in the West do to the rest of the planet. But because it is easier than ever to get live information as to what our sisters and brothers are facing, it is also easier than ever for us to learn from Christians who are facing extreme poverty. This attitude can help to facilitate meaningful, innovative connections between churches and relevant social justice agendas.

Q: How can leaders in the UK learn from global faith and community development work to help churches in the UK effect change more successfully? 03

Better communication between Christians in the UK and the wider world will help us to be rid of any unconscious superiority complex and develop a posture of humility in relating to our brothers and sisters. It is not right to assume we have all the answers and resources and our international Church family has all the problems. Spending time with Christians from other contexts quickly dispels that myth. It teaches us the power of hospitality, that programmes are not always the answer and that some of our traditional well-meaning responses can make things worse rather than better. We need to go the extra mile to understand and listen to leaders in parts of the world where Western Christians have sought to help with aid and development to make sure that how we are helping is appropriate and genuinely helpful.

Q: How can church leaders and Christians navigate politicised tension as they fulfil a calling to enact justice and meet needs? What would you recommend to leaders who struggle to discern when to use their voice in this way? 04

The disparity often comes because of the kind of political issues Christians choose to speak out about. When Christians spend most of their time angrily defending their own rights or trying to impose our moral framework on a resistant culture, we are labelled as too political and we do not serve well the reputation of Jesus. When Christians can be seen speaking up for the marginalised and dispossessed, we rarely get dismissed so easily. For example, the Church’s engagement with the Grenfell Tower victims or the championing of the needs of Muslim refugees from Syria were welcomed examples of the Church obeying scripture’s imperative to ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy’ (Proverbs 31:8-9, NIV). I believe it is time to speak out on different issues: advocating for those with Down’s Syndrome, dementia or mental health issues; forwarding the debates on identity; alleviating root causes of poverty and lifting people out of poverty; putting ourselves forward for adoption and fostering children in the care system; or welcoming refugees and those who are marginalised in our communities.

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