Strategic steps for Interserve Australia
Inside Interserve, June 2022
As you know, the vision of the Interserve fellowship is to see Lives and communities transformed through encounter with Jesus Christ. Our purpose is to make Jesus Christ known among the peoples of Asia and the Arab world.
And what is Interserve Australia’s role? In the Strategic Plan, we articulated our role in this great vision like this: Our work is to Envision, Equip, and Engage Christians in Australia in creating encounters with Jesus for peoples of Asia and the Arab world wherever they might be so that they might know the transforming power of Jesus.
We’re seeking to achieve this through:
These three focus areas arise from our Strategic Plan. In 2020, a Board working group (made up of Board Members, Staff and Partners) undertook research, consultation, and prayerful reflection to write the Strategic Plan. Since then, we’ve been working hard at bringing these goals to life!
She is heading up a growing team whose focus is on envisioning, equipping and engaging individuals and churches for local and global impact.
(Strategic Plan focus areas 1 & 2)
Historically, the main interactions we’ve had with Australian churches have mostly centred on sending and supporting Partners. But we realise that we need to go deeper. That’s why we’re deepening our engagement so that Interserve can be shaped by the local church, and so that Interserve can help support local churches in their goals for local and global mission. This is exactly the same way we seek to work with churches in Asia and the Arab world.
By assisting local churches in Australia with their missional formation, the number of Asian and Arab communities being served with wholistic Christian witness will grow. A particular goal is to work with churches and congregations that have an Asian or Arab heritage. People from these congregations often already have strong language fluency and cultural understanding, which equips them well to serve in Australia or overseas.
Partnering with churches also places Interserve in a position of high visibility and trust for individuals in those congregations who are considering long-term intercultural service. As we envision, equip and engage local churches, individuals will already be equipped with some intercultural skills through Interserve training in their church. (Strategic Plan focus areas 1 & 2).
Separating our overseas and local work does not reflect current mission dynamics. By integrating all our workers into our mainstream operations, together we can be more responsive to the needs and opportunities before us to make Jesus known among the peoples of Asia and the Arab world, wherever they may be.
This also ensures that all our workers are well supported. Our previous operating model, with separate streams for overseas workers and Australia-based workers, is no longer the best fit to serve the diverse needs of all our Partners and On Trackers. (Strategic Plan focus areas 1 & 3).
At the administrative level, we are grouping together the broad areas of work our people are engaged in (e.g. Healthcare, Education, Discipleship). We’ll use programs to better connect with a new generation of Christians who think about their serving and giving in terms of the issues they care about. It also enables us to fulfil our charity compliance reporting obligations.
This administrative change doesn’t affect the everyday experience of our Partners – they’re still being placed where they can best serve using their skills, and they are receiving the same member care. We also envision that over time, fundraising on a programs-basis will generate additional income, operating in tandem withPartner Team Support. (Strategic Plan focus areas 1 & 3).
As a National Office and Australian Team, we’re seeking to learn from others in our international community. One key learning area is about how to integrate the traditional sending and supporting responsibilities of a National Office together with the active ministry happening in Australia among Asian and Arab communities, in partnership with churches.
Each of these exciting initiatives are carefully considered steps to enable the work of Interserve to continue,now and into the future. We have always been responsive to the context we’re in, and there are a number of significant trends and changes we are mindful of and responding to:
Our strong commitment to our overseas-based Partners and On Trackers remains unchanged. They are doing excellent work, serving alongside the local church and making a difference in their local communities. They will also continue to be supported by robust financial and member care structures.
We’re also continuing to encourage individuals and churches to be involved with long-term service overseas. Interservers who have lived and worked in global contexts are bringing their valuable experience to envision and equip the Australian church to engage locally and globally. The cross-cultural expertise of all our Partners is a vital part of what Interserve offers to churches in Australia.
Our work in Australia has reached its capacity under our existing model, and we see clear benefits to both our overseas work and Australia-based work by increasing our investment in local ministry. Equipping for local ministry also envisions and equips for global ministry.
As ever, we rely on the support of all who give, pray and actively participate in our community in numerous ways. We are excited about the many opportunities present before us to work with the church in serving the peoples of Asia and the Arab world. As we go forward, we are thankful to every one of our supporters who make this possible, and we prayerfully depend on God as we seek to faithfully continue the work he has called us to.