When Jesus commanded his friends to “make disciples of all nations” he established the mission of the Christian church. Through his death, resurrection and ascension we received salvation from sin. Jesus made it clear that salvation, which he paid for and we cannot earn by our deeds, still need to bear fruit. And the fruit of salvation is to bring people into God’s grace. To accomplish this he sent his disciple into the mission field and through words and works, people will learn of God’s love for all his children.
Thus we can say that while the heart of Christianity is God’s love, the heartbeat is missional. The blood which flows to and from the heart gives life to the body. No organs or tissues can function without the continual surge of blood. Missions are the life sustaining fluid which keeps the Body of Christ alive. If it cannot course from the heart, blood cannot flow back and the heart dies. When it does, God’s love dies in the world. It is up to Christians to keep the blood flowing and the heart pumping so that not only churches thrive but also God’s purpose in the world.
Christians and churches are challenged to do mission work in today’s world. Our resources are limited and the needs are great. Some churches lack money but have people willing to work. Others lack the people but have the money, and many have neither. To compound the problem, there are so many needs in our communities and the world we cannot decide which to serve and so do nothing. Inertia of indecision occurs and the heart begins to slow down and lose strength.
Redefining the mission of a church and its members should be a priority for clergy and lay leaders. Appraising their resources and then focusing on the mission they are best equipped to fulfill should be among the uppermost priority of a Christians life and the churches ministry.As a woodworker my view is from the perspective of someone who uses tools, in my case woodworking tools. A mechanic, electrician or welder may look at a different set of tools. A Doctor, nurse or medical technician would think in terms of instruments and equipment. Housewives may see what’s in their sewing cabinet or kitchen cupboard or cleaning closet. Teachers think in terms of text books and teaching aids. Whatever we do we address and resolve challenges with the tools we have in our toolbox (or kitchen, sewing room, bookshelves, or medical bag).
The tools I have in my shop determine the project I’m going to take on. Thus my tools limit me to certain undertaking. Since I do not have a lathe, none of my project involve wood turning and thus nearly everything has straight angular form. However if I wanted to do project incorporating rounded wood forms, I would appraise my financial situation, determine if I have room for a lathe and the ability to learn to use one, then make a decision if it is an efficient use of my time, money and space. Will the benefit out way the cost. A housewife who loves to cook may ask is it worth expanding her kitchen or bringing in new appliances so she could develop her skills as a chef. Would a mechanic limit his work to the tools he has in his shop or acquire new ones in the hope of expanding his business and generating additional income?
Churches face these same questions. The problem is they rarely take the time to appraise what they have or what they need to accomplish their mission. And the reason for this is that most churches do not define what their mission is. Somewhere filed away at every church is a written mission statement defining the goals of the church. When you asked the average member, or even one of the lay leader (or clergy!) what that mission statement says you generally get a dumbfounded look of incomprehension. Without a clearly defined mission it doesn’t matter what tools you have in the tool box. They will simple rust from lack of use and the heartbeat of the church will slow down.
Before the tools can be dusted off and put to use the mission of the church needs to be defined, understood and committed to by the laity and clergy. There are two ways to identify the churches ministry:See what you have in the toolbox and determine what you can accomplish with those resources.
Determine the needs of your community and
Acquire the tools you need to meet those needs.