after several years of planning and negotiating and dreaming cms is finally ready to launch out into the future as a community rather than just an organisation. i have alluded to it before that cms has been officially acknowledged as a community of the church of england (in fact this happened in nov 2008) which makes cms an ecclesial community rather than parachurch (never liked that word).
if you want to read about it and digest the info, there are various levels at which you can do that...
there's a membership leaflet here which is the best looking (all the photos are mine!). andrew jones by being photographed by me at a cafe in london has unwittingly become the face of cms community membership!!
the constitution is here - be warned this is long - longer than the constitution of the USA even! but if you are really interested this is actually the key document containing vision and governance issues. i'll highlight a couple of pieces below.
this lent all existing members of the society (as it was) have been sent a booklet 40 days of Yes to reflect on mission over 40 days. this looks really good - concise and focused. you can download that here
and then there is a membership declaration which is the thing to sign if you want to be a member.
by adding this here i am not wanting to say hey join cms! i have been part of cms for about 8 years and lived into a global mission community that has really changed my understanding of god and how i live my life. i am also developing leadership training for cms. so it's inevitable i want to join. i think the shift to community makes sense and is exciting for all sorts of reasons. but cms community will be best if it starts small and grows with people who really identify with the core vision to live out a mission life locally and globally. so please don't feel any sense of obligation or pressure. but the invitation is there to consider... as well as being a member you can also be a friend of cms which i was really pleased to see for those wanting to connect but in a lighter touch way
[i have actually uploaded these files to the blog as i can't work out the direct urls from the cms membership page but they are all available there]
so what's at the heart of it? well back to the constitution for a moment and a few headlines
- it's evangelistic at heart
- the wonderful venn principles are foundational (if only we could live by them!) -
Follow God’s lead
Put prayer first, money second
Success depends on the quality of those appointed
Rely on the Spirit of God
- there are three new shifts of emphases (still being worked out - lots to do here!)
Organisation to Community
Missionaries to Missional
Partnership to Networking
(i could say lots about these but won't make this blog post longe than it already is - perhaps i'll come back to these in future posts. this doesn't mean that there are no longer organisation, people in mission or partnership but the emphasis is shifting)
- and one sentence summing up the current phase/challenge/energy - "Global Mission is evangelistic mission shared in mission networks fuelled by mission spirituality."
(again i'll come back to that in another post i think)
- the shift to community is really a shift to say that the whole community, i.e. every member is called to live out a life of mission locally and globally. it's not just about a few professionals who the rest of the community supports (though of course i hope that there are still people supported - i recognise the community supports me for which i am very thankful). and the community's aims are making disciples, resourcing leaders and transforming communities.
- there are seven promises/commitments a member makes which are neatly summarised as
I want my life to be about mission
I believe God is still working in this world
Mission isn’t someone else’s job, it’s mine
I want to live for Jesus every day
I realise I need fuel for my journey
I want to help my local Christian community keep mission a priority
I want to regularly renew my mind and spirit
- some possible expressions of mission are listed as examples of what could happen (and indeed is already happening)
each member’s daily witness in living out the seven Promises
groups of members working together and supporting each other in mission
missional congregations who adopt the CMS values and vision and mission practice
mission pioneers called to contextual or transcultural mission around the world
mission houses which have a mission goal and lifestyle that is transformational
mission projects which the whole community adopts from time to time
advocacy and prayer by the community as a whole for a particular time/focus
- part of the change that has taken place has co-incided with SAMS and CMS merging (south american mission society) - this sounds easy but behind the scenes has involved a ton of hard legal work. but it's finally happened that the merge is done
there's plenty more (pages of it) including the life and governance and so on. but hopefully that gives the flavour of what is happening.
one thing that has come up and is bound to come up as it has in several internal conversations is cms' ethos statement which is at the back of the lent booklet and in the constitution as an appendix. i won't spell it out here - you can read it - but it was set in place by trustees several years ago originally in relation to european law. i have tried unsuccessfully to get it changed as i think it's now being used for something it was never intended for. i don't like it. it reminds me of evangelicalism of the seventies that was obsessed with signing statements of belief. but cms isn't just about me. it's a cmmunity and those governing it have enshrined it in the constitution. as a member i am asked to affirm it. here's why i can: it's in two parts - the first section opens with the words 'as a community...' and the second section 'individuals are committed to...' the first section i am interpreting as saying that the community has agreed/affirmed through its governing bodies that... it's a bit like being part of a church that has decided certain things some of which i may not personally agree with but i am still fully part of the church. i am committed to those things that individuals are asked to be so i'm in. i have put this at the end as it's the only negative thought i have about the shift to community but i'm not making it a stumbling block. i suspect it will be changed in the next ten or twenty years anyway and that can only happen through being part of the community...
cms has made some radical and brave moves to reposition itself here. it's exciting to see what possibilities will unfold into the next 50 years. apologies if this is a technical post that seems a bit internal to cms but if you made it this far i guess you were interested.
to celebrate this shift to community at pentecost there is a celebration day50. do join us for that. there will also be a number of community events and meals around the country. again i'll say more about that separately...