For the past six years, Keith Walker has been part of Serving In Mission’s International Leadership as Global Director for Strategic Development. Here, he shares some of the highlights during this time and his views on what lies ahead for mission today.
What would you say have been some of the most significant strategic developments for SIM over the past six years?
Keith: It’s been a period of very considerable change for us. Let me pick out three developments to illustrate the range of those changes in relation to our sense of purpose, our contexts of ministry and organisational shape.
- Our new Purpose and Mission Statement has made a huge difference in being clear why SIM exists. Driven by the biblical conviction that no one should live and die without hearing of Jesus, it expresses the focus of SIM’s calling: Christ should be proclaimed in communities where he is not known.
- It was this sense of purpose that sat behind our glad engagement with MECO, leading SIM back into the Middle East. We now have a growing work led by those who have laboured there for many years, but with SIM’s capacity to bring more workers into the harvest field.
- Given our renewed sense of purpose, it became clear that our International leadership structure needed to be refreshed to pursue that purpose in today’s world. A major restructuring happened two years ago. This involved bringing new people into senior leadership without losing those with solid experience.
Where do you see SIM going in the years ahead and how will we take the next generation of potential workers with us?
Keith: As I’ve stepped back, future direction is for others to decide. But perhaps I can offer a couple of things.
I don’t believe that we need to trade off wise strategic direction in mission against the instincts of the next generation of workers. It isn’t always helpful to shape mission according to the preferences of those coming forward to serve, but neither is it necessary. My sense is that younger Christians are looking for authenticity and relevance.
SIM can be authentic, by remaining committed in heart and action to our purpose of proclaiming Christ, expressing his love and compassion in communities where he is least known. And if we are serious about discovering where those communities are, relevance will be assured too.
For example, we have begun to look afresh at the needs of Europe. The older way of prioritising mission sought to identify ‘unreached people groups’. That approach led to many places that were and are, proper places of focus for SIM, not least the Muslim world. But it tends to fail to acknowledge that there are whole communities of indigenous Europeans who are unreached.
As we continue to evaluate where the Lord is calling SIM workers to go, we also need to reassess where the Lord is calling workers from.
The Lord is calling workers from many countries, some to come here! And here in the UK, there are mission-ready Christians of Asian, African and Latin backgrounds whom the Lord has equipped for service here and elsewhere.
This reorientation of expectation is hugely challenging for mission structures and finance, but highly relevant to today’s world, and not least, to our country divided as it is by socio-economic and racial distinctions.
So what can our supporters do?
Keith: Be open – think differently about what a missionary might look and sound like, where they might come from and where they might go. Then pray, receive and send, go and give.
By Kerry Allan
- For unity, courage and discernment for SIM’s International’s leadership team.
- For the long-term sustainability of SIM’s ministries and projects in the aftermath of COVID-19.
- Give thanks for Keith’s God-given gifts and skills that have helped to shape SIM’s gospel community’s vision, both in the UK and overseas.