A closing address to the Council of Global Connections
Earlier today I spoke at the Council of Global Connections, where I have served for the past nine years. What do you say to a room full of high-powered mission professionals in such a context? My answer to that question follows below.
I will not be here this afternoon as I shall be in a radio studio elsewhere in London. Given that I shall be recording five 2- minute scripts and that I was asked to provide ten minutes now, it was quite tempting to simply stitch them all together and read them out to you. I have resisted the temptation, though. These 5 recordings will take me to over 150 scripts overall.
It has been an interesting experience. There was my first ever live radio broadcast on BBC, where a light had unexpectedly been switched on above the pulpit, and I was unable to read my script inside the clear pocket where I had placed it. There was the time I was called into the studio to record a New Year’s Day script on December 16th. Visiting the toilet just before going into the studio, the light pull came off in my hand, which provided something of a moral dilemma about who to tell and when! There was the time I bumped into James Corden on a narrow temporary staircase at the studios without having a clue who he was. More recently, I appeared on a live talk show to chat about one of my little children’s charity books, only to discover that my fellow guest was the man behind Live Aid!
Through it all, though, I have learnt one thing above all: TONE IS KING. The wrong tone can ruin a good script and a good tone can lift an average script. During my first ever live broadcast – the person at top of the programme was told by the producer to “put a smile in her voice” and it really worked. TONE IS KING.
I can’t believe I have been on Global Connections Council for nine years. I have sat through a lot of meetings. I have eaten a lot of Chinese food. I have seen an awful lot of stats. I have asked a lot of (awkward) questions. I have learned a lot of things about way world is and way it could be. However, I have been struck by this: how easily the conversation about missions strategy becomes infected with the language of combat. Put a group of high-powered missions experts in a room together and before too long we start talking about battle, territory, conquest, target, force and frontlines. These are all words that would not have seem out of place in the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. In some of our discussions such language may be inevitable. However,there must be a constant call, an insistent ringing bell, to call us back to our roots.
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4 v. 7 – 21)
As Christians we are new creatures in Christ, and the selfless gene of love is now attached indelibly to our DNA (v.7). This is not a concept of love as airy as the latest fad – but a love encapsulated, inhabited and demonstrated by Jesus – in his words, his works, his life and his death. I have been in conversation this week with film-maker who wants to interview me for an 11-16s documentary on paganism in Britain and its relationship with Christianity. One of the questions (and my answer) follows:
• How do you believe Pagans differ from Christians?
Christianity as a belief system is all centred around the person, words and works of Jesus Christ – a historically identifiable individual. Christians see him as their means of connecting with God. Pagans, on the other hand, may worship many gods, or embrace a kind of belief which sees God in everything
The Roman Emperor Julian in 267 AD, found that paganism was haemorrhaging Roman citizens to the new upstart religion of Christianity, and the only way to stop it was to beat them at their own game and start loving each other more and better.The ultimate litmus test of any agency, church or network is the extent to which we stay true to these principles. When we get to heaven, the question may not be “how many” but “how well”?
I have been in ministry for 27 years, and for the past dozen or so combined it with other comms interests – in broadcast, written and digital media. Through it all TONE IS KING. Lots of people in churches…and organizations …like to call themselves “radical”.It’s a hipster label we like to wear on our soul much as others might wear one on their jeans. The REAL RADICALS are the champions of love.
– They are the ones who neither court nor relish the fanfare – They are the ones who neither seek praise nor pout at criticism – Like a tuning fork struck on the harsh reality of life they vibrate with the tone of Jesus
Whatever you do without me – don’t have too much fun, and make sure that the tone of the king…is king.