Reflections: one year in | Global Connections

Reflections: one year in

Context

There was a year’s interregnum between predecessor leaving and my arrival at GC. During the interregnum the staff did a great job of keeping GC ticking over, but there was a period of strategic drift. The staff were tired, so my appointment, and then Andy Law’s appointment as COO, was encouraging for the staff and Board. 

An additional component of the first year was substantial turnover in staff. All of the staff who have left have done so because of career development, retirement or maternity leave. Recruiting new staff has been a major theme of my first year and GC now has a full complement of staff again, all but two being in situ less than 18 months. 

 

Priorities 

My immediate task was to support the staff, along with building relationships with stakeholders. My first months, therefore, were full of internal and external meetings, and getting an understanding of GC. This activity continues. 

Once Andy Law arrived in Jan 2019, we began the second priority: a process of reviewing GC’s ministry. The outcome of this process has resulted in identifying the key strengths that exist within GC, and to highlight a number of issues that face the mission community with the U.K. and Europe, and internally within GC. These are summarised under five key words and build upon previous work conducted with the Council and Board. 

 

Feedback about GC

What is appreciated:

  • the various Forums and events
  • the breadth and diversity of the network
  • the mutual learning
  • the thinking about mission and global trends
  • the various services provided (CV, guidelines, pension etc.)
  • the various resources produced
  • the networking opportunities

 

What areas need developing:

  • Church engagement has been a continual challenge for many years, including Agency-Church relationships
  • Engagement with Black Majority and other Diaspora churches
  • GC does not have a well-known brand
  • Diversity of representation on Council and elsewhere

 

Key Challenges

Staff responsibilities and priorities are changing in line with the needs of the network. For some staff only modest change is or will be required, whereas other roles will experience greater change.  The arrival of new staff has made this mostly a smooth process. 

 

Financial circumstances remain challenging. This is primarily down to a significant reduction in income directly attached to the personal support of former members of staff. Careful management of expenditure by Andy Law has resulted in savings against budget for 2019, but the finances for 2020 remain very tight. The GC staff team are bringing in measures to address these challenges.

 

The website is the main point of interaction between GC and the wider Christian community. Christian Vocations is the most visited part of the website, however the entire website needs reworking and we are planning to work on this in 2020.

 

Raising GC’s profile, particularly among local churches, is a crucial next step (see below). However, we continually face the challenge of retaining and extending our membership base. 

 

Five Key Words: GC Functions

Global Connections has grown from very small beginnings with one part-time employee to what it is today (with a total of ten staff members). In the process GC has found its remit growing and developing in line with the needs of our growing membership base. As a result of the review mentioned above, GC has now identified five key strategic functions, summarised by five words: Engage; Exchange; Collaborate; Release; Equip. These build upon established and appreciated practice.

 

Engage – Promoting greater understanding of global mission issues and trends relating to strategy, theology and practice

Exchange – Developing and nurturing a thriving community of mutual learning and shared experience

Collaborate – Building relationships, developing partnerships and exploring together the future direction of mission at global and local levels

Release – Supporting Christians to find their vocation in life

Equip – Resourcing and signposting UK churches and mission agencies on a range of operational matters

 

Four Key Areas: GC Priorities

In consultation with many stakeholders we have identified the following four areas as priorities for our work for 2020/21:

  1. The future of mission. This is a catch-all title covering missiology and methodology. It includes convening meetings and conferences about developments in missiological thinking, and trends within the global church; but also considering the methodologies in use by churches and mission agencies. This includes the financial and recruitment challenges facing many mission agencies. 
  1. Diaspora/ reverse mission. A major change in church life in the past decades has been the growth of immigrant churches and communities. Working with these is vital for global and local mission. GC works with a number of members and organisations in this area, CMMW being our primary partner. 
  1. Millennials and next generations. There is a large and growing body of work that focuses upon the new generations and the challenges that they face in engaging with global mission and the church. 
  1. Church engagement. Local churches have changed in the past decades. They are demanding much greater participation and ownership of their workers, finances and prayers. Many churches are actively developing international, cross-cultural projects and bypassing mission agencies. This reality needs accepting by agencies. For GC this provides a good opportunity to raise the profile of global mission, working in collaboration with our member agencies and churches. We need to do this in such a way that benefits our members and local churches. 

 

Blessings,

John Baxter-Brown

January 2020