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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Monday, November 2, 2009

MISSION

A few years ago, a research company conducted a survey of a large number of churches in United States. They asked church members what they thought the purpose of the church was. The results of the survey were very interesting. 89% of members said that the purpose of the church was to look after the needs of members and their families. The remaining 11% of those polled thought the church’s purpose was to reach out to people where were outside the church family and not church members.

The same research company also polled the pastors of these same churches. Interestingly, exactly 89% of the pastors replied that the purpose of the church was to reach out to those who were not members of the church, and only 11% thought the purpose was to look after members and their families. The two groups were exactly opposite!

In a way, this survey demonstrates the difference between maintenance and mission. Maintenance is about me and my family. Mission is about those whose lives would be so greatly enriched by knowing there is a God who cares about them passionately.

The recent revelation to the church we now call Section 163 has much to say to us on this matter. In fact, one might think it should really settle the debate once and for ever.

“Generously share the invitation, ministries, and sacraments through which people can encounter the Living Christ who heals and reconciles through redemptive relationships in sacred community. The restoring of person to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a people of faith.” D. & C. 163:2b

In Canada East Mission, we believe we are called to move from maintenance to mission. The call is the mission of the Christ. It is the mission of the church. It is our mission.

Do you hear the call? Are you ready?

2 comments:

  1. OK I've been following this little series of articles. I can't get past the idea of a few days ago about some new kind of work we could be doing. I'm stuck in a congregation with not enough people to do what we're already doing--and not always doing a very good job of it if we're really honest. How do YOU propose we change gears and make something else. How can I as someone who's pretty much part of the way it is now, call a halt and start to work on something different?
    Sorry, that's not very clear, but I'd like your ideas, because otherwise I'm about ready to throw in the towel.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous, your question is hard to answer specifically because, while the call to mission is to every congregation, the fulfillment of that mission will be different in every single situation. In other words, there are as many ways to fulfill our calling as there are congregations or people who wish to respond.

    Since it is hard to respond specifically, let me answer philosophically. Every disciple is on a mission to be the presence of Christ to those they meet. Every congregation is a group of disciples on a mission who have the opportunity to work together to pool their efforts. Really, that is all a congregation is; a group of disciples on a mission for Christ.

    So the call to be about Christ's mission is for both the individual disciple and the group of disciples we call a congregation. There are many reasons why congregations sometimes lose track of their sense of mission; too many to list here.

    Even when congregations fall into what I refer to as maintenance mode, there is always the possibility that the disciples will hear that call again, and begin asking, "What is it we are called to do, and how can we do that?" They need to answer that question! Nobody else can answer it for them, although others may be able to help them work it through.

    Sometimes congregations begin asking the question because one individual disciple hears again the call, and raises the awareness in the group. If the group responds, that may mean they stop trying to run programs that used to be meaningful but no longer are, in order to take on the challenge of being about mission. If the congregation doesn't respond, doesn't the disciple who hears the call anew still need to answer the call?

    I read a lot of frustration in your comment. I hope you will not "throw in the towel", but give some thought to what it is that is causing your restlessness, and what it is you are feeling called to do.

    Does that help at all? If not, please write some more. Lets keep talking.

    ReplyDelete