Cheryl McGrath the Communications Coordinator at CMS in Melbourne (Church Missionary Society) spoke to the One Day in Melbourne gathering on Saturday, her subject Mission Publication Philosophy and in this directed her session on CMS.
Cheryl pointed out, although CMS is worldwide and a large mission society, nonetheless it is people focused.
“CMS is all about relationships between people. I mean two things by this. First, that CMS is all about relationships between missionaries and the people they are living amongst on location. Our priority is sharing the gospel with people who don’t yet know Jesus, and so a huge priority for missionaries is in building friendships with people around them, getting immersed in the culture, and learning the language – so that they can better relate to those around them.
Secondly, CMS is all about relationships in the sense that supporters tend to be connected to CMS through knowing a missionary. They’ll know the missionary through church circles or hearing them speak at an event, and that’s how they become invested in that particular person and their work. This is why missionaries work really hard on Home Assignment re-connecting with their supporter churches, and also why missionaries try to keep up with their supporters via email monthly to keep them in the loop. They know that this prayer and support is essential for what they do.
My work in communications is another way we seek to build these relationships. Once a year, I will ask our missionaries to write an article on a topic that we collaborate on. It’ll be related to their missionary work, but it really depends on what season they are in and what has been happening in their lives. We can get articles in about anything from a story about giving a Bible to a student in their uni Bible study, to reflecting on how cultural differences are impacting the way they teach God’s word, to what it’s like living in a Hindu culture. This helps build bridges between people, helping our readers get an insight into the world of our missionaries.
Rebecca Moore, Steve and Bridget Brenton, Rodney Carr
Bible and Missiology focused
“We have an important Bible and missiology focus. CMS is all about gospel priority. We send people out to share the gospel and demonstrate Jesus’ love. We have a strong Bible focus in what’s published in our publications, because that’s our foundation.
We don’t write sermons or homilies – we are firmly based in real-world stories, initiatives and events. But equally, our publications aren’t just feel-good stories.
They’re not just about family updates, or friends made on location, without making clear that God is the one enabling all of this work, not us. As our content moves online, my thinking around content has shifted more into these broader themes. Bible basis was always present in our articles for our monthly newsletter, but this is becoming more important as the audience becomes increasingly diverse.
Lyn Fowler and Ashley Saunders at One Day in Melbourne
CMS is about crossing cultures. CMS trains our missionaries thoroughly so that they are equipped with the knowledge of the culture they’re reaching, and so they can thrive on location.
We are convinced that "If God's love is for anybody anywhere, it's for everybody everywhere”. The gospel may need to be told differently in different parts of the world, but that God’s love is the same for everyone. So the content I put together often highlights cultural insight, as well as the challenges and opportunities in these cultural contexts.
Russell, John, Philip, Alexander – One Day in Melbourne
Deepening engagement in Mission
“Above all, our publications exist to deepen the engagement of readers with cross-cultural mission. We believe that mission is important for 'all' Christians, not just those who are ‘called’ to go. If we believe that Jesus is for anyone anywhere, then we believe that Jesus is for everyone everywhere. We each have a role to play in seeing A World That Knows Jesus.
CMS has a tagline that is: Pray, Care, Give, Go. These are all part of our vision for how our supporters can engage with missionThey can pray. They can care for and encourage our missionaries. They can give financially. CMS is a not-for-profit, and as such, we rely on the generous gifts of our supporters in order to keep doing what we’re doing.
They can go. This can be a variety of things, not just long-term – including getting involved in local or short-term mission. We offer mission exposure trips called Go! Explore trips – for instance, we’ve run one to Barcelona last year and again this year. We also run apprenticeship training called Mentoring Across Cultures (or MENTAC), where people learn how to speak across cultures in Muslim and Buddhist contexts.
What will communications look like in the future? I come from a publishing background, and I know the high casualty rate that we’ve seen in the book, newspaper and magazine publishing industries in the last ten to twenty years. Writing, editing and publishing these type of publications has definitely not been a safe area of work in recent times.
But I do believe that communications is a growing area, and it’s one that’s essential to what mission organisations do. My role is to use content to engage hearts and minds in the mission of CMS, and I’m grateful for the chance to contribute to God’s work in this way.
Cheryl McGrath - 2017 One Day in Melbourne
Right side of the Sallies room
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at