Those who have been following my blog for some time would (hopefully) know by now that I am firmly convinced that a church only has the right to exist in as far as it is focussed on the world, created by God and saved by God through His Son. The question which might arise is how to determine whether and to what extent the church I belong to is focussed on mission. Actually this is also a bit of a personal problem, as I have been asked to attend a meeting next week at a church where I have for some years been requested to sit in on their missions committee in advisory capacity. What frustrates me however is that it seems as if this specific church wants to be able to say that they are involved with missions but at the same time they don’t want to initiate anything. In a previous post I wrote about this frustration.
When writing the post mentioned, the missions committee had decided to disband and I wrote there that I wondered what the church council is going to make of this decision. Well, I later found out that they ignored the decision! So they are going on as if the decision was never taken and they are planning a meeting for next week and yours truly has been asked to attend again! On the one hand I’m really at a loss what I should do. Swaziland is getting a little money (not much) from this congregation and I know that they will be setting the budget at this coming meeting. Of more importance is that they are also giving money to the ministry in Russia I’m involved in and I would not want to jeopardise this by not attending.
Earlier today I happened to come across a website called Friend of Missional and there someone had written some thoughts on how a missional church would look. The word “missional” is not acceptable by all and therefore I prefer to speak of a mission focussed church. But in the end we mean the same thing, more or less. You can read the full report on their website, but following are a number of characteristics which one would find in a mission focussed church. The list is certainly not comprehensive, but by looking at this list and by evaluating your own church, it would be possible to pick up a trend. And if the trend is that the church is more focussed on itself and those who are members, then I would consider this as something needing serious attention.
A mission focussed church would consider:
- Not simply how many people come to our church services, but how many people our church serves.
- Not simply how many people attend our ministry, but how many people have we equipped for ministry.
- Not simply how many people minister inside the church, but how many minister outside the church.
- Not simply helping people become more whole themselves, but helping people bring more wholeness to their world, (i.e. justice, healing, relief).
- Not simply how many ministries we start, but how many ministries we help.
- Not simply how many unbelievers we bring into the community of faith, but how many ‘believers’ we help experience healthy community.
- Not simply working through our past hurts, but working alongside the Spirit toward wholeness.
- Not simply counting the resources that God gives us to steward, but counting how many good stewards are we developing for the sake of the world.
- Not simply how we are connecting with our culture but how we are engaging our culture.
- Not simply how much peace we bring to individuals, but how much peace we bring to our world.
- Not simply how effective we are with our mission, but how faithful we are to our God.
- Not simply how unified our local church is, but how unified is “the church” in our neighborhood, city and world?
- Not simply how much we immerse ourselves in the text, but how faithfully we live in the story of God.
- Not simply being concerned about how our country is doing, but being concerned for the welfare of other countries.
- Not simply how many people we bring into the kingdom, but how much of the kingdom we bring to the earth.
How did you yourself and your church rate?
This is a blog where I would like to share some of my ideas about contemporary mission. I have more than 25 years experience as a full-time missionary in Swaziland, have done a PhD on the theology of mission – specifically on the relationship between mission and eschatology – and am presently specialising in the problem of HIV/AIDS and how the church should approach this problem. You are welcome to respond and share your ideas on this blog.
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- A Theology of Missions or Missionary Theology?
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- Transforming Mission - Chapter 2
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