The essence of mission is being salt and light at the same time. Salt is about mixing in and participating in society. Light is about standing apart and being distinctive from the flow of society. Participating without being distinctive is not very missional. But neither is standing apart without mixing in...
Here in New Zealand there are heaps of examples of people/organisations who do this well. They inspire me! If David Letterman can have his nightly TopTen I am going to have a a go at a First Eleven (with the Cricket World Cup around the corner, of course!) of salty-lighty mission initiatives that give me hope and make me an optimist.
[Warning! What follows is highly subjective!]
#11 the 'God billboards' (www.godmarks.co.nz)
These people have thought about the barriers to the gospel and then in a simple, disarming way they've placed a few imaginary words from God into prominent places. Even the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi is on record as an admirer... I certainly am!
While they do not claim to be exclusively 'Christian' and they have a perspective that not all followers of Jesus may share... I am drawn to the courage and perseverance with which they've engaged the political world with truths/questions long submerged. It's been long overdue.
#9 John Cowan on Sunday Night Talkback
His wit and humour may secure many ears - but it is his grace with people and his seasoned wisdom schooled on the gospel that keeps those ears.
#8 Parachute Music Festival
Regardless of the good it has done for Christian music, there is no denying that this movement has strengthened my arm in a core mission task: Christian parenting. 'Look, there are actually heaps of people who love Jesus.' To stand among such a throng of Jesus-followers helps make the gospel plausible in a pretty hostile land.
#7 Hamish Stevenson and Soul Purpose
This is a little gem. Take a little time with this mag and you quickly discover an immersion in youth culture - but in a way that is aglow with distinctive lights all the way through.
#6 Parenting Inc
Schools and Community Centres and Churches throughout this country - for some years now -have been crowded with people coming for some wise lotion for the very itchy itch that scratches so much. Keep at it Ian and Mary and Co!
#5 Andrew Becroft
I've followed this career for many years. Just a hint of Joseph and Daniel! Immersed in the public world as Principal Youth Court Judge - the criminal activity of young people in his face every day - here is a person of humility and integrity who mixes truth with compassion in order to find a just way forward.
#4 TEAR Fund/WorldVision
Is there another country in the world where this Christian Aid agency combo has such a high and respected profile? I doubt it... It is a massive achievement over many years. Stick at it Steve and Lisa and Co!
#3 Kim Workman and Prison Fellowship
With nightly TV news bulletins being a sequence of criminal activity, the headline sins of the very naughty receives huge exposure in our land. But behind the scenes there is this quiet achievement of 'faith-based prisons' as a testimony to the power of the gospel.
#2 Sam Chapman
The politicians can debate the presence or absence of an underclass in NZ through to the next election ... and they probably will. But there is no denying the power of a transformative gospel at work through Project Awhi - in the very places where our nation is most desperate.
#1 Brooke Fraser
Yes - this one is tops! I am still baffled by the fact that Albertine is a mainstream release. This is my favourite example of salty-lighty mission... lyrics laden with truth wrapped up in the gracious winsomeness of a person with outstanding musicianship.
Yep - these are people who participate in the world in a way that seeks to be distinctive. There are many, many more - many with names we do not recognise! - but these are someo of the ones who have helped me with my Jesus-following.
Two crucial comments with which to conclude:
(a) These are the sort of people who need our persevering prayers...let's not forget to do so.
(b) Let's not forget the local church. I could have offered a First Eleven of salty-lighty local churches. Easy-peasy! I've discovered dozens of them. The local church is where the prime responsibility for gospel-shaped mission lies. Here is where our prime efforts to participate in such mission lies as well. Go for it!