I'm in the process of reading Al Hirsch's 'The Forgotten Ways' (Brazos Press, 2006) and finding it very stimulating in terms of orienting the church for cross-cultural and incarnational mission. I suppose I should have thought of this before, but haven't:
'The fact that God was in the Nazarene neighborhood for thirty years and no one noticed should be profoundly disturbing to our normal ways of engaging mission ... it says something about the timing as well as the relative anonymity of incarnational ways of engaging in mission' (p.133)
It just underlines the need for long-term commitment to presence within the community where we are trying to mission - pioneer ministry needs significant time spent in listening and exploring and discerning (what the community is saying - what the Holy Spirit is saying). It also reminds me that we don't always have to work quite so hard as we sometimes do at being noticed. Making a noise and making our presence felt can sometimes be counter-productive. Simply being with and alongside people without banging a drum can be equally if not more effective - no one noticed that God was in the neighbourhood for thirty years, but the ground was being prepared for people to notice his saving activity when it came.