As a network, one of our aims is to see the Gospel go out among the nations. One of the ways we can do this is by going to the nations when we have opportunity as academics, and taking the Gospel with us.
My husband Erik and I are facilitating the missions portfolio of the network, thinking through what it looks like to serve the Kingdom as academics beyond Australia, and what it looks like as a network to support those who do go.
Last year we used a short ‘5-year plan’ survey to take a kind of missions ‘temperature’ of the network: Where are our members at with regard to thinking about mission and ministry in their academic role? What support would they value as they think about the future, and how would they like to engage further with the network in this area?
Although the number of respondents was fairly small (16 in total), this was still a useful exercise in getting a snapshot of how some of our members are thinking about ministry and mission as academics. It was encouraging that network members were interested enough to spend time thinking about it. Although the survey is brief and only takes a few minutes to complete the bare minimum, we appreciate people taking the time to fill it in.
Where are our members at with regard to thinking about mission and ministry in their academic role?
We asked people to tell us about their plans for the next 5 years in regard to staying or moving on from their current organisation. More than half of respondents said they had some plans to move on to a different organisation or context, while a quarter said they would most likely stay where they were. This probably reflects current trends in the university sector, with high levels of contract positions and casualisation. If this is representative of the Simeon Network as a whole, it means we have a network with a reasonably high degree of mobility and/or uncertainty.
We also asked people to tell us about where they intended to invest their energy in terms of work and ministry over the next 5 years. It was encouraging to find that three quarters of respondents indicated plans to increase their investment in ministry or mission over the next 5 years. This could include plans to move into a more formalised ministry role, increase ministry involvement at work in parallel with advancing their academic career, or increase ministry efforts at their current organisation. The folk who responded to the survey may be at the more active end of the spectrum in the network, but even if half of network members are thinking about how to increase their investment in ministry on campus, that’s a good place for the network to be at the moment.
What support would network members consider valuable in developing their and others’ thinking in this area?
We asked people to indicate whether they would be interested in discussing their ministry plans with someone more experienced in academic ministry, and 60% said they would find this helpful. We also asked people what ways they would be willing to support or assist other network members who would like to develop their ministry as academics. There was a very encouraging level of interest (14 of 16) shown in supporting others through mentoring, prayer, 1-1 Bible reading, accountability partnerships, and reading groups. Most respondents were prepared to get involved in more than one of these ways.
The next step is to get in touch with those who indicated an interest in discussing their plans or supporting others in thinking through ministry and mission. So if you were one of the respondents, stay tuned! If you didn’t fill in the survey, but would like to, it is still open: Simeon Network survey - 5 year plan (Google Form).