I can remember my mother talking with enthusiasm about a young man in our town, “That boy is going somewhere someday; he’s a man on a mission!” The reason why people have equated success with being on a mission is that to be on a mission you must be very focused and determined. This is true in most every aspect in life. To go someplace it is important to be on a mission. This is also true of the church. The church, from the very beginning, has been on a mission. However, over time it seems like other concerns divert us from the mission, and instead of going someplace the church becomes stagnant.
I think there are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, I think we have all grown up in a church where mission is seen as something only done in another context and by other people. This false understanding that mission is something done “overseas” has been very detrimental to the church. When we think of the church primarily as a place for the care and fellowship of the saints or the members, we have lost the biblical understanding of what the church really is. Jesus Christ did not die for a club but for a church, which was left here on earth to carry out the mission which he began: to seek and to save the lost EVERYWHERE. There are people who need Jesus all around us. More than half of the people who live in Georgetown Township do not attend church. Many of them were once members of a church but came to resent the church or see it as irrelevant. Additionally, God has brought many refugees into our community and this is a tremendous opportunity to be on mission for Jesus.
The second reason why the church today is not on mission is that we simply do not know how. For many established suburban CRC churches the only prerequisite to growing has been to have a nice building, a halfway decent preacher and a very good organist. There was never any need, and perhaps not much concern, about reaching the lost. In fact, if churches in the suburbs wanted to reach the lost they would start at “chapel” and the new believers could go there, but not to our churches.
Today this is still what draws people to church: beautiful and useful buildings, strong preaching, excellent music programs and exciting kid/youth programs. But this still does not mean that a church has a mission other than to collect people from other churches that are already believers. What is really rare today is a church on mission, where the people attending are there because of their love and calling into the mission of Christ to save the lost.
The movement that is needed to enter into the mission of Christ is one which requires us to submit all of our own desires to His and all of our own personal missions to His mission. It means singing with sincerity the hymn, “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee…Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use every pow’r as Thou shalt choose…Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.” When we understand the sacrifice that is required to be on mission with Christ, we will be able to do some amazing things for Him because of Him.
Being a man or woman or boy or girl on a mission is really the only way to live. This is why Christ created us and redeemed us in the first place. And when we are on mission with Christ, we are living the live we have been given to live. It simply does not get any better than that.
On a personal note to the church I pastor, I would like to emphasize that I believe that this is the time, today is the day, that Trinity CRC must strengthen its resolve to be the church we are called to be, a church that marches forward with confidence on a gospel-proclaiming, world- redeeming mission. And we are in a position to do this, God helping us, as we keep our mission aligned with his mission. We need to be a body of grace-embracing, love-motivated, Spirit-filled people who can put aside some previous notions of the role of the church and of the place of missions and follow the command of Christ to follow God on his mission to redeem and restore the world, near and far, wherever that takes us. I hope this describes each one of us, and I invite you to a great adventure of mission with Trinity CRC.