Living Missionally First to Second
The article below is taken from the Presbytery de Cristo wesite, http://presbyterydecristo.org/iLasNoticiasdeCristo, dated Jan 16, 2015.
If the motto of the attractional church is "Y'all Come," the trumpet call of the missional church is "Go and Show!" We are called to Go and Show the Gospel to our neighbors and in our communities. Thus, the first
value - from home to first base on the Missional Living baseball diamond - is that missional living is ministry outside of our church buildings.
The second value is that missional living is service oriented. By highlighting a service orientation, this definition of missional living conforms both to Gospel mandate as well as church practice; thus, it will be both easy and difficult to comprehend and internalize. Let me try to unpack the potential both for easy acceptance and a hard confusion. The notion of missional living as service oriented is easy to comprehend and internalize. Passages such as Isaiah's definition of a true fast as encompassing the ways of justice for others and all, not just
personal deprivation (Isaiah 58), are companions with Jesus' parable in which the sheep feed the hungry and clothe the naked thereby serving the Master unawares (Matthew 25). This is the air we breathe as
Presbyterians! And so our churches have a storied tradition of leading the ecumenical community toward establishing Food Banks, organizing the local Habitat for Humanity chapter and giving to the One Great Hour
of Sharing. All of these activities are sacred; all of them make Jesus happy. Yet they are insufficient for the robust life of Christian faith to which we are called.
The manner in which service orientation is so much a part of our faith DNA also creates the potential for confusion as regards missional living. The temptation, it seems to me, is to practice our service orientation
from a consumerist model, which views the church as "Big Brother" and the poor, needy and helpless as "Little Brother" (please forgive the sexist terms). Do we see the danger in the terms I just used? Those who are recipients of our generosity are NOT helpless; to say otherwise is condescending in the extreme. And though they may be in need and may experience poverty, these definitions with which we saddle them are not their deepest truth. Rather, the deepest truth of these folks whom we seek to serve are found in such terms as "child of God," "father," "mother," "friend," and perhaps also "brother or sister in Christ."
Missional living that is service oriented begins to break down the hierarchical, consumerist models with which we have served in the past. It begins to lower ourselves in our own eyes in order to be able to see truly the person who stands before us. That person, the recipient of food, shelter, clothing or 1,001 other services daily rendered by churches, also stands before God; indeed, we stand together. Missional living may not require a change in our activities of serving, but it pleads for a transformation of our hearts and minds, a deflating of our egoism and arrogance in the way in which we conduct that service.
Bounding in Hope,
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