By Rev. Rod Horsfield
We hear a lot about “mission” in the church today but there is not a lot of clarity about what we mean when we use that word. It is a complex topic and great tomes have been written about it. But what does it mean for you and me who come to church and try to live as Christians in a complex world? At the risk of being simplistic, I want to offer some guidelines for the church of the future. (You might notice I don’t even mention property.)
What Are the Fundamental Tasks of A Church?
1. Maintaining the public worship of God, proclaiming the gospel and celebrating the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper
2. Teaching and nurturing people in the Christian Faith so that they are formed as disciples of Jesus.
3. Responding to human need by loving service in the community especially to those most in need
4. Seeking to transform the unjust structures of society through a commitment to social justice
5. Striving to safeguard the integrity of creation and preserve the rights of all God’s creatures
Of course, how we do these things will depend on the creativity and imagination of the people and the church’s leadership. We will use both traditional and contemporary means and artifacts to do this.
What Could We Do? So, what could one person do if they wanted to live as a contemporary Christian in such an environment? Here are some suggestions for you to consider for your own life.
1. Be regular at the worship of your Christian community. Make it a priority; avoid conflicting commitments wherever possible. Don’t make worship your last option but your first.
2. Seek opportunities to reflect and learn with others about your faith. Become a person who can give an account to others about how faith informs your approach to life and its challenges.
3. Actively participate in the life, ministry and service of your local Christian community in a way that uses your gifts and interests.
4. Be a hospitable person to all whom you meet, especially strangers if they come to church
5. Express your faith by having at least one commitment to service in the wider community
6. Raise your awareness of and participate in the work of one agency that seeks to transform the unjust structures of society eg. Christmas Bowl: Act for Peace: Uniting Justice; World Vision etc.
7. Find new ways of living your life in the light of the needs of creation. Be aware of what you consume and how you can lessen your use of the earth’s resources.
This is a simple way to begin participating in the process of becoming the church God needs us to be if we are to join in God’s mission in the world.