“Mission” is one of those words often used in the Church, but without a clear meaning. The term can be a cover-up for all kinds of religious activities. But mission is more than a name or a program. It’s a calling and a passion.
An individual’s personal mission is what he or she is meant to do in life, as for the apostle Paul (Acts 13:46f.), or for Jesus (Luke 4:18-21). In the corporate sense, a congregation’s mission answers the question, “What are we about? What core services do we offer others?”
Once we ask such questions, we find as many different answers as there are groups of people! For example:
• Mission Covenant Church, in Poplar, Wisconsin, gives their entire offering the first Sunday of every month to support sixteen missionaries. They make the other three Sundays a month support everything else they do.
• Each year, St. John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, chooses four mission causes, based on Acts 1, choosing to resource ministries in: “Jerusalem” (local area), “Judea” (district region), “Samaria” (Conference), and “the ends of the earth” (world).
• Since 2009, historic Salinas First United Methodist Church, in Salinas, California, found a new lease on life in their services to their immediate neighbors, who are homeless. Their mission is to be a Neighborhood Services Center, where love is practiced by providing daily lunches for up to 150 people a day, offering free medical and dental services, providing counseling for adults, using Sunday school classrooms for evening community groups, and partnering with other churches and agencies to welcome their homeless neighbors into the full life of worship and the congregation.
Mission doesn’t have to have an old-style “we-they” flavor. It can be a way of life for individuals and for group ministry, as stewards of mutually empowering relationships. As Paula Killough1 says, “The good news is not that the Church has a mission, but rather that God’s mission has a Church. The Church is called to bless, restore, and heal all the people of our world. Our mustard seed gifts of love can change everything.”
Your partner in ministry,
1 – Paula Killough, “A Case for Global Generosity: From Jerusalem to the Ends of the Earth,” in Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation, Vol. 19 (Richmond: Ecumenical Stewardship Center, 2017), pp. 16f.