Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

from November 11, 2007
Are we ready to be “sent”?

As I read the review above, I was struck by the sentence about the church being a “sent” community. For those who read much of the missional literature, this is not a new idea. I forgot where I first heard this, but someone said that the church does not have a mission, the church is the mission – God’s mission to the world. Or to put it another way, it is not what we do, it is what we are.

That is a HUGE shift in self-understanding for most of our churches. For most of our formative years in the church, we thought about mission as something we do. We “do” mission projects. We “go” on mission trips. We “send” money to missions. Many of those events and projects were life-changing to many people sitting in our pews today, and are to be valued and celebrated. But what does it mean to “be” God’s mission? What does it meant to be the ones “sent” instead of the ones doing the “sending”? What it means to me is that we are the ones on the front line, not someone else. What it means to me is that “going” to church is not the destination, it is the pit stop. What it means to me is that we gather to be fed and to be in community, but also that what we gain from that gathering is in service to our then going out into the world. What it means to me is that as important as Sunday it, Sunday is perhaps the least important part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. And all that is new, and probably even uncomfortable, for most of the long-time members of our congregations. What we are asking of them has changed, and that is no small thing.

As leaders of churches that are seeking to find their place in this changing world, the biggest challenge before us is helping them to come to a new understanding of what God asks of us in this new day.

Do I have the answer about how to do that? Not today, I don’t. What I can say is that it will take time, and leaders with persistence, courage, and faith. But if we will give ourselves over to that task, then how can God’s mission fail?

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