Leading Mission Tip —
After a few weeks involving travel and enjoying grandchildren and grandnephews/nieces, I’m back with another Leading Mission Tip! I hope mission center folks are finding these useful; if not, let me know what I can do to clarify how congregations can become more missional, or any comments or questions you have for the good of all.
We have been (admittedly slowly, which is Principle No. 8!) discussing the 8 Foundational Principles of Mission, and have arrived at No. 6 – “Mission is Contextual.” “We creatively live out the message and mission of Jesus Christ in language and form that gives fresh expression to our timeless call and message.”
What does this mean? It means that, although the core of our message does not change, the way in which it is expressed may, in order to relate to those in our current culture. As the Apostle Paul said – and he was clearly gifted in bringing Jesus’ message to a new audience of Gentiles – “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (I Cor. 9:22) Jesus referred to the same need to understand and relate to one’s culture when he said, “How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” (Luke 12: 56)
Jesus also said that his followers must become strategic and make plans: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost?” (Luke 14: 28) So a congregation must become strategic in identifying how it will live out Christ’s mission in its own context. Rather than merely following established patterns and ways of doing things, each congregation is called – responding to continually changing times/context—to “follow prophetic vision” (through continually listening for the Spirit’s guidance as a congregation) in developing a plan (ever being re-evaluated) for mission in its own neighborhood/context.
So this week’s Leading Mission Tip or exercise is for congregations to consider ways they can learn more about the people in their neighborhood. This might involve “Walking the Neighborhood” (just getting out of the church building and walking around and observing – a very useful 1st step), or asking neighbors if they would like to have a block party, or considering another means of outreach that involves getting to know people in the community. Continue to do centering prayer or “dwelling in the word” (see previous posts) as you seek the Spirit’s guidance.
*Words within quotation marks (except for scripture passages) come directly from Michigan Mission Center materials.