…on Augustine working with the English

By the time Augustine was consecrated in Gaul as the ‘Archbishop of the English’ in 597 he had already made a good start as a missionary. Within a few months of arriving in England he had baptised Ethelbert, King of Kent.\r\n\r\nAugustine was sent as Apostle to the English by Pope Gregory the Great, who showed the quality of his strategic mission leadership by sending a team to these distant islands.\r\n\r\nAlongside his strategic foresight Pope Gregory also offered a shrewd spiritual insight, perhaps to help Augustine keep his task in perspective over the long haul. He passed on this message to the Archbishop:\r\n\r\n“Tell [Augustine] what I have, upon mature deliberation on the affairs of the English, determined upon, viz: that the temples of the idols in that nation ought not to be destroyed but let the idols that are in them be destroyed. There is no doubt that it is impossible to efface everything at once from their obdurate minds: because he who endeavors to ascend to the highest place rises by degrees or steps, and not by leaps.”\r\n\r\nIt’s good advice for today’s mission focused communities. Here are some lessons:\r\n

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  1. discerning strategic leadership was at the heart of successful mission then … and so it is it is now.
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  3. this strategic leadership should be carried out by Archbishops at a national level and Bishops at a regional level, but also by vicars and their leadership teams at a local level.
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  5. successful mission is not only the product of strategic planning, and it necessarily requires a ‘mature deliberation’ of the people and culture in which it is carried out.
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  7. the key issue in mission is rightly identified by Pope Gregory the Great as idolatry. Mission is primarily a matter of worship not apologetics.
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  9. … and we should generally expect to move forward by degrees or steps and not [usually] by leaps and bounds.
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\r\nAnd of course, in the end there is always someone who has to risk something …