We're On a Mission from God

Mission, noun

  1. an important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel.
           * a group of people sent on a mission.
           * an organization or institution involved in a long-term assignment in a foreign country.
           * an expedition into space.

  2. the vocation or calling of a religious organization, especially a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith.
           * a building or group of buildings used by a Christian mission

  3. a strongly felt aim, ambition, or calling.

It's only three posts in to this blog, and I already find myself reverting to that old cliche of starting a post by referring to the dictionary. Sigh. It's all downhill from here, folks. However, this is a topic that has spurred a fair amount of conversation around the church, especially since the congregation voted to embrace a "missional" vision for our future.

What exactly does that mean? Are we talking about sending missionaries out around the world to convert the "heathens"? Are we talking about knocking on doors to hand out tracts and proselytize? Are we talking about service projects? Are we talking about feeding the hungry? Are we talking about building houses? Are we talking about an expedition into space? (Please say we're talking about an expedition into space!)

Part of the problem is that the non-church use of the word "mission" (as in a corporate mission statement) is very different from the  traditional church use (which historically has had to do with converting people - sometimes using not-so-admirable strategies to do so). But there's also a more recent take on mission in and by the church.

Since 2008 the official mission statement of the United Methodist Church has been "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." Those last six words were added to insure that we don't forget that it's not all about making converts or racking up points in our "professions of faith" column. The work of the church involves sharing God's love in a way that leads to transformation.

In some circumstances, that may in fact look like talking about your faith with someone, but in others circumstances it may look like feeding them or sheltering them. It may look like baking bread or painting or helping someone learn to balance a budget or giving someone a ride or planting or reading. It may look like using those assets that God has given you to help transform lives and the world.    

From September 14 to 19, we have our Hometown Mission Week. During that week, mission will look like folding clothes, doing yard work, preparing and delivering meals, packing boxes of food, drawing pictures and cards, making home repairs, weeding and mulching, visiting, packaging supplies for inmates, and a host of other projects to reach out in our community. There are opportunities for folks of all ages and skill levels, half and full day projects. You can take part for a few hours or the whole week. You can get the details and register here. I hope you'll join us! 

As Elwood Blues would say "We're on a mission from God."

- Katy