Yes, I know. This might not be a subject which immediately springs into your mind when you think about mission. For me, though, stationery is beautiful and when used well, can greatly enhance our work in mission. My daughter mocks me mercilessly for my love of stationery. Sometimes I am guilty of over-extending my spending on stationery items. I have a good collection of pens. Different shades, different textures, different makes – all these things are important. There’s nothing worse than ending up at a meeting, and realising that you are carrying an unsatisfactory pen. (or maybe that’s just me) And as for notebooks….
I am sure you have your own stationery foibles. Elements of your work set-up that may seem like minor details, but when they are off-kilter, you just can’t get comfortable or be as creative as you want to be. I believe that stationery can take its part in Christian mission. Please bear with me as I try to explain. Also, people tell me that we should write about what we love, and I love stationery!
Post-it ® notes are great (other sticky notes are available). They are portable and can help a large group of people be heard. I expect that if Jesus took orders when he fed the 5000, he would’ve most likely taken them on sticky notes. Easy to distribute, brightly coloured and a wonderful method of gathering a lot of information, quickly, from a diverse group. Maybe you are working on your Mission Action Plan in your church? Maybe you are brainstorming at your PCC or church council – get the sticky notes out and be creative. Pass them out and make sure everybody fills one in with an idea or a question. They can then be moved around and afterwards worked with by a follow-up group. Stick at it and see what God does with your ideas.
Paper has been around for a long time. Great truths have been written on paper or papyrus for centuries. Keep records well and don’t forget to look back to what has gone before. In our digital age, it could be that a lot of mission activity isn’t ever planned, written or delivered on paper anymore. The mission of the church has been going for centuries; we are merely building on what has gone before. Much of it recorded on paper, possibly gathering dust in a vicar’s study or church office. Remember the heritage. Build on the past. Acknowledge what has gone before.
Writing has developed over the years. In ancient times the sap from plants was mixed with animal blood to produce a dye that could be transferred on to the walls of caves or tablets of stone. Other materials used to write included charred bones, mercury ore and tannic acid. Quill pens came into use in the 8th Century (ish) and were used up until Victorian times, where more sophisticated inks began to be developed. How can we be sure that what we write will last? Can we be creative in what we write? Is there somebody in your community who could pen a poem to inspire you in mission? Will these words of inspiration be preserved. Jesus famously once wrote in the dirt, when he was trying to teach the Pharisees about sin. We don’t know exactly what he wrote, but can assume that it was something piercingly profound. Things we write can convey meaning and can last forever. Get creative people involved in your mission. Maybe write a prayer to inspire mission in your church. Write a short story. Write and ask God’s Holy Spirit to inspire the words.
Diaries and calendars are important when it comes to mission. Operating an accurate calendar can be deceptively tricky. We have to work hard to co-ordinate things with our friends and colleagues. We also nee d to be aware of wider community events; try to avoid clashes, but keep an eye out for what we can collaborate on. Keep a journal, whether as an individual, or as a church. What would you put in your journal? People you pray for. The priorities you have in your community. Some aims you might have in mission. Some answers to prayer. Some successes. It is heartening to look back on a journal or diary, which keeps a realistic record of faith and mission.
So, is stationery important? Possibly not for you. That’s OK, we will look at social media later in Mission Essentials… For some, though, thinking about stationery and having a good attitude to the details, can be a springboard for safe, creative and engaging Christian mission.