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Friday, July 20, 2007

We've Lost the Plot

Missions- (mish-uh ns) -noun: 1. a group of persons sent by a church to carry on religious work, esp. evangelization in foreign lands, and often to establish schools, hospitals, etc. 2. missionary duty or work 3. organized missionary work or activities in any country or region 4. a church or a region dependent on a larger church or denomination 5. a series of special religious services for increasing religious devotion and converting unbelievers: to preach a mission 5. an assigned or self-imposed duty or task; calling; vocation 6. a sending or being sent for some duty or purpose 7. those sent

I'm starting to realize that the greatest problem facing Christian missions today is not money, not manpower, not strategy, and not even the physical and spiritual opposition to our work. The problem with missions is that we don't know what it is. The concept, the very definition of the word, is interpreted and applied by so many people in so many ways, I think we've lost the plot.

To the world, missions is church people feeding the poor and building church buildings. To the casual churchgoer, missions are those trips the youth group takes every summer. To the volunteer missionary missions is sacrificing time and hard-earned money to travel to a distant place to conduct sports camps and backyard Bible clubs. To the long-term and career missionary- well... they obviously have no idea what it is.

For the sake of my calling and work, I'm going to work on defining the ministry and role of the missionary.


GuyMuse said...

When you get it all sorted out, be sure and fill in the rest of us! :)

ewinwe said...

i've found some more definitions ...
mission - NOUN: 1a. A body of persons sent to conduct negotiations or establish relations with a foreign country. b. The business with which such a body of persons is charged. c. A permanent diplomatic office abroad. d. A body of experts or dignitaries sent to a foreign country. 2a. A body of persons sent to a foreign land by a religious organization, especially a Christian organization, to spread its faith or provide educational, medical, and other assistance. b. A mission established abroad. c. The district assigned to a mission worker. d. A building or compound housing a mission. e. An organization for carrying on missionary work in a territory. f. missions Missionary duty or work. 3. A Christian church or congregation with no cleric of its own that depends for support on a larger religious organization. 4. A series of special Christian services for purposes of proselytizing. 5. A welfare or educational organization established for the needy people of a district. 6a. A special assignment given to a person or group: an agent on a secret mission. b. A combat operation assigned to a person or military unit. c. An aerospace operation intended to carry out specific program objectives: a mission to Mars. 7. An inner calling to pursue an activity or perform a service; a vocation.
TRANSITIVE VERB: Inflected forms: mis·sioned, mis·sion·ing, mis·sions
1. To send on a mission. 2. To organize or establish a religious mission among or in.
ADJECTIVE: 1. Of or relating to a mission. 2. Of or relating to a style of architecture or furniture used in the early Spanish missions of California. 3. often Mission Of, relating to, or having the distinctive qualities of an early 20th-century style of plain, heavy, dark-stained wood furniture.
ETYMOLOGY: French, from Old French, from Latin missi, missin-, from missus, past participle of mittere, to send off.

that all being said - dictionaries really don't get it, do they? still, from the list above, i've got two favorites ...
"6a. A special assignment given to a person or group: an agent on a secret mission." yeah, that's me - i'm a secret agent! more logical, and likely, is this one:
7. An inner calling to pursue an activity or perform a service; a vocation.
my day-to-day work is a mission, whatever form it takes. now THAT is something for me to work on!

unless i just want to be a heavy dark-stained piece of furniture.

peace out.

Roy said...

(Doing missions in a European capital city) Regardless of the plethora of descriptions of what missions should entail, it will mean answering the question: "What has God called me to do in the context I am living?" Any confusion here will mean confusion as to what to do and what NOT to do with Monday-morning opportunities. For myself the building metaphor Paul uses in 1 Cor.3:8-11 and his role as a 'foundation-layer' is so helpful. And two questions that critique all I do flow from this metaphor: (1)Am I using the right material? (...there is no other foundation...) (2) Can another continue and complete what I have begun? (...and another is building upon it.) Missions is about Jesus Christ and what THEY can do, not about me and what I can do! Missions is about what is done through the missionary not what is done for the missionary!

platformshoes said...

My question is are we making it to difficult on ourselves. The Great Commission wasn't just given to a select few of hand-picked nearly perfect indiviudals. It was given to every follower of Jesus. Our organization may say that we're all about CPM's but Jesus just said go and make disciples, I'll build the church. I'm wrestling with this as well. I think I struggle with this because the bar has been lowered so much in the US churches that when I think about being a "m" it seems so difficult. I think I'm just supposed to be the fragrance of Christ among my host culture. To build relationships and share my life (which is built upon Christ) with people. We're all equipped with different spiritual gifts so the way that we manifest the presence of Christ is different for each of us. We should avoid mandating a certain behavior or style of ministry based on a certain indivual's giftedness. Simply put...whether I'm in Paris, TN or Paris, France I should be living with the same priorities and heart for others.