One thing I have missed during the social restrictions is a good party. Remember circles of friends laughing, buffets laden with beige finger food and dancefloors full of dad dancers and piles of clutch bags? The art of the DJ at such gatherings is to read the room for the perfect moments to bring out your floor fillers and big numbers. Bring out ‘YMCA’ too soon and there will be no arm-shaped letters anywhere to be seen. But don’t leave it too late to spin the ‘Grease megamix’. If we were in charge of the mood music of the UK right now, it probably wouldn’t be the time to press play on the disco anthems.

With the infection rate still high and many families struggling to educate and even feed their children, the feeling across the country at the moment is one of struggle and lament. This week we wade through Blue Monday’, the so-called most depressing day of the year. Christmas cheer is fast disappearing in the rear-view mirror and it feels too early and uncertain to joyfully anticipate the effects of the vaccine.

A rallying call to persevere would be natural in a blog like this. Don’t get me wrong, that is what this is about. But my encouragement to us as a church is far more specific. As the reality of another term of Zoom, home learning and staying at home kicks in, hang in there. Hold on. We are getting through this. Hope is coming. The vaccine is working. But there is a greater hope to point to and this is a battle cry to keep talking about, living out, inviting into and contagiously spreading that hope. This is an encouragement to keep persevering in mission.

Mission matters right now because the world needs Jesus. Bad news in the headlines is nothing new but acts as a constant reminder of the deep divisions, evils and injustices in our society. No political ideology or technological innovation can solve the problem of the core issue: the brokenness of the human heart. We are good news people in a bad news world. And the world starts on our doorsteps, with our friends, neighbours and communities. As we love those who live around us, care for the vulnerable, name-drop Jesus in conversation and invite others to take the next step of faith, we meet the real needs of people who desperately need hope, light and the knowledge of one who is with them on the journey and can bring lasting transformation.


Mission matters right now because the fields are ripe for harvest. I’m an average gardener. But I do know you can’t plant many seeds into frozen winter ground. The seasons are important. This season of coronavirus has been full of grief and pain. A season when you would expect less interest in faith. The opposite has been true. Church has moved out of the building, Christians have spent more time with their neighbours and courses such as Alpha and Christianity Explored have been running online. As that has happened, millions more people are engaging with church services and praying. This is a season to persevere in mission, to stand with the broken-hearted and unashamedly speak of the hope we have in Jesus.

One of the challenges is that it is so easy to be discouraged when sharing faith. Invitation can lead to a constant stream of rejection. I once invited 24 friends to an Alpha course. Twenty two said they would come. Four came to the launch night. Two left halfway through. No one came back to the second week. A few years later, I knocked on the door of a neighbour to invite him to another event. He declined. It’s so easy to focus on these moments, to never invite people to anything ever again, and to tell yourself that God uses others. It’s so easy to essentially count yourself out of being used by God in mission. We must go again. A year after my rejection on my neighbour’s doorstep, I felt challenged to extend a second invitation. The whole family now come to church every week. We must go again.

On the UK dancefloor, it’s not quite time to reach for the party playlist. That day will come. But mission is not just a peace-time’ enterprise. Paul’s charge to Timothy is that it is an in season, out of season’ activity (2 Timothy 4:2). And in this season, it still matters. In fact, it probably matters more. Thank you for all you are doing, for every invite, food parcel, livestream, Zoom course, caring phone call and hand-written encouragement. Keep going. As a church, let’s keep mission high on the agenda. As individuals, let’s keep loving our neighbours, extending invitation and living as salt and light. We will get through this. And as we do, let’s keep talking about Jesus and inviting people to the greatest party of all.