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.

In choir tonite we continued learning “Let the Church Rise”.  It has such a powerful message to the struggling church and the church in transition that I wanted to share it with you.

Music is a large part of my life.  I’ve done just about every kind of job there is in the local evangelical church, and in most of the churches I’ve been part of I  sang in the choir.  I have also been choir director, children’s choir worker and congregational worship leader several times.  When my children were young, I would rock them to sleep singing my favorite hymns.  Music – especially worship music – speaks to me.

The words of Israel Houghton & Jonathan Stockstill’s Let The Church Rise are instructive:

We are alive filled with Your glorious life
Out of the dark into Your marvelous life
We are waiting with expectations
Spirit raise us up with You

Let the Church rise from the ashes
Let the Church fall to her knees
Let us be light in the darkness
Let the Church rise

We are moving with His compassion
Spirit fill our hearts with You

Let Your wind blow, Revive us again Lord

And Let the Church rise from the ashes
Let the Church fall to her knees
Let us be light in the darkness
Let the Church rise

It’s a great song, with an easy 6/8 melody.  So I went looking for a youtube of the song to share with you.  What I found was an unusual mashup – an Anime video to the song.

Anime is the Japanese animation art form that is beginning to take hold around the world (in part due to Pokemon and similar shows).   It has roots in ancient Japanese myths (often from Shinto religion), but the themes are universal,  generally featuring someone of low status bringing light and power to overcome an evil force.

And so we blend old Christian themes into modern youth animation to let the message “rise from the ashes” as we are “light in the world.”

May your missional heart be stirred as you watch: