ministry


What does it mean to  be ‘missional’?  Is that different from being ‘mission-focused’? Does it matter what you call it?  Does it matter if you do it?

I’m not sure the difference between being missional and being mission-focused.  I suspect they are at least close to one another.  Both move a congregation to being aware of missions, and into actually participating in missions.

I know from experience it starts with being aware of the need.  It means going deeper than just ‘bless all the missionaries over there’ to knowing about what a specific missionary does day to day in relationship with a specific people group.  The congregation begins to pray for and to give  donations to that specific missionary over and above the generalized denominational offerings.  Finally someone breaks out and goes somewhere.  Over time, if nurtured properly, the whole congregation gets behind the movement and a sizeable portion of the congregation gets involved.

It’s transformative.

In almost every case, it pulls the members closer to one another and closer to God.  They get a sense that what they are doing is important, and if they didn’t do their part, people would starve or die from disease, and people would go to hell without Jesus.

Perhaps the difference I’ve seen are those that focus their attention on the unreached peoples elsewhere in the world, and those that serve the forgotten, abandoned and estranged people in their local community.  Both are important.  Both should be celebrated.  And people need training in how to be ‘on mission’ in both locations.

Enter Church Publishing Incorporated (CPI), a publishing source for Episcopal support materials.  The story I get from the CPI press release is that their initial offering is five books of practical wisdom.

  • Starting from Zero with $0: Building Mission-shaped Ministries on a Shoestring, By Becky Garrison
  • Mission-shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions in a Changing Context
  • Mission-shaped Parish: Traditional Church in a Changing Context, by Paul Bayes, Tim Sledge, John Holbrook, Mark Rylands, and Martin Seeley
  • Mission-shaped Spirituality: The Transforming Power of Mission, by Susan Hope
  • Mission-shaped Questions: Defining Issues for Today’s Church, by Steven Croft

I haven’t read them, but the titles seem interesting.  (I just received Becky’s in the mail this weekend.)  If you’ve read one or all, let me know what you think.  If you want to get a copy, they are available from the CPI Bookstore.

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I’m trained for disaster response.  Specifically, I’m one of the 80 thousand Southern Baptist yellow-shirted volunteers certified to help out in a disaster.

I’ve taken that training a step further.  I and others at my church have received Red Cross training in first-in damage assessment.  Sleeping in the truck first in.  Helping the Governor decide if it’s bad enough to make it a federal disaster area.  It gets me to where hurting people are.

I have a ham radio license.  I’m one of the 40 or so locals who actively participate in civic events like marshaling parades and parking cars at community events.  I train with the radio team and they know me.  In an emergency, I become a trusted agent with access to the shelters and the command post, as a minister of the gospel.

We train for commodity distribution, and when the church gave away 1600 boxes of food, our team did so efficiently and with smiles and prayers, ministering love with order and cooperation. (no one waited in line more than half an hour)

When we go in to “mud out” a flooded house, or take a chain saw team to remove downed trees, or set up a mobile kitchen to feed thousands a day, we do so to get close to hurting people who need to hear that God loves them, and in spite of present circumstances, has a wonderful plan for their life, and has brought me past the police checkpoint to minister His grace.

Because if I provide aid without a witness, I’m just another city volunteer, with a dead faith.  I want instead to work out my salvation to people who in that moment are anxious for a good word.