The SWN Story

When did SWN start? 2004

Why did it start?

It was started because God planted a dream in the founders (Barbara and Lindsay Fell) to see Australian believers in their 40s 50s and 60s actively engaged in cross-cultural mission.

This emerged partly through participation in the Perspectives course and then leadership in the Kairos course, and the realisation that 3 billion people would never have the opportunity to hear the gospel unless someone would cross a cultural barrier to tell them.

A series of encounters, events and conversations confirmed to them that God wanted to utilise the 40s-60s age group in cross-cultural mission more than was currently happening.  The founders had a strong sense that if the 40s 50s and 60s demographic were not involved then half the “work force” was not being utilised.  Jesus had not included an age opt out clause in his great commission!

While mission agencies were recruiting in that age group, the majority of the recruitment effort was in the 18-39 year old age group.  It was not the mission agencies that needed persuading that they needed to recruit this demographic, it was the people themselves who needed to hear  that they were valued and that there was a place for them in missions – that in fact they had a lot to offer.

How did it start?

It began with a year of public meetings (2004) in Brisbane to “test the water” and included liaison with mission agencies to see if they would like to participate.  To everyone’s delight, there was a strong interest with significant attendance. At the end of 2004 the resounding response from the agencies was that there was a place in Australia for an organisation which focused on encouraging 40s 50s and 60s to get involved in mission.

Responding to a sense of leading from God to start such an organisation, the Fells established a link with a similar organisation of which they had become aware in the USA: the Finishers Project. With encouragement from the Finishers Founder, lots of research in Australia, much prayer, and the use of their own administrative skills and experience, the organisation was eventually born,  drawing on the experience and good will of a group of men and women who agreed to form an inaugural Board.

How/why did it come to have its current form?

SWN has developed into a network of churches, mission agencies and individuals with a common goal of seeing Aussie Christians in their 40s, 50s and 60s actively involved in local and global cross-cultural mission.

The dream of the founders included a number of important elements:

  • The organisation was not to focus on the major east coast cities, but to make its services available to people all over Australia
  • It should be a place where people could access lots of mission information easily
  • It would be a network, not  another recruitment organisation and would not replicate recruitment work already being done by existing organisations.

Today, SWN’s main distinctives include

  • An emphasis on an electronic web-based format that can easily be accessed 24/7, from all over Australia and be kept up-to-date with relative ease.
  • an Australia wide partnership with many agencies all co-operating to recruit this demographic
  • An online “missions introduction agency” which can be mined by mission agencies and individual enquirers. (A generous donation of software by Finishers Project in the USA enabled part of that dream to be realised.)
  • A desire to interact with local churches to assist in any appropriate way to help encourage their members in this age group to enquire about, explore options for and then engage with God’s Global Plan.

 

Prepared June 2011