Basic Tools 1: A Theology for Member Missions: seven truths

Our missiology: God’s mission and our role in it. Member mission is based on seven very critical truths about God and the relationship we share with the Lord.

1. God is on mission. God is on mission everywhere all the time. God is always working with us and through us to make the world all that it can be. Just think about it: right now teachers are helping children learn to read, aid workers are distributing food to the hungry, and people are reaching out to friends and neighbors in time of need. This is all God’s work. Wherever there is love and justice, God is at work. The Lord’s mission is to bring love and justice wherever they are blocked and to maintain or increase them where they are already present.

2. God’s mission has a church. The church does not have a mission. Rather, God’s mission has a church. The church is the visible instrument of God’s mission and, so, collaborates with any person or group working for greater love and justice. As we set about doing God’s work in the world, remember that the Lord is already at work there. We are only joining what God is already doing.

3. God is as concerned about how we live from Monday to Saturday as God is about what we do on Sunday. What does that mean? It means that what we do with our church, what we will call “congregational missions,” are just one part of our lives. “Congregational missions” are done by the congregation as a whole or by one of its committees. “Congregational missions” may include altar guild work, youth ministry, community service, operating a soup kitchen, and so on. These are critical missions, yet most of us spend the majority of our days doing other things. This is where the other kind of mission work comes in. “Member mission” is what church members do daily at home, at work, in their communities, in the wider world, and during their leisure. In truth, because the members go everywhere in the world each day, what they do can have far greater impact on the world than what the congregation does. Thus, their potential impact is unlimited! It’s about using the vast majority of our time to work for greater purposes God’s purposes. It would seem then, that God would care most about what we do Monday to Saturday, not what we do on Sunday.

4. Today, churches are often sidelined when critical decisions are made. But, the members are not! Spirituality is our relationship with God and how it influences what we do needs to go public. Our spirituality is often focused on our private lives and our inner struggles as human beings. Our public lives can easily be overlooked. But it is in our public lives that we can often do the most good for Christ by carrying our Christian values into the world. We do not intend to impose our beliefs on others but, rather, to allow our faith to guide our behavior in every facet of our lives. This way we can influence the political, social, and individual decision that affect people’s lives.

5. A congregation’s basic purpose should be to support the members in their daily lives. However, it may start out as just one of a congregation’s purposes. Ideally, in time, this will become its primary purpose. Now, this may be very different from the current focus of many churches. As a congregation starts to move in this new direction of supporting members in their missions, the members will come to see that it’s in this purpose that God’s greatest presence and power can be found. God’s work in the world thrives when the members move out into the world to join in God’s constant struggle to overcome evil and to bring the world closer to all God wants it to be. This new focus may seem to be a very difficult task at first for any church, but as church life moves toward this purpose, the leaders and members will feel their loads lessen and satisfaction increase as they empower others and each other to do God’s work every day. And, in turn, church leaders and members will be empowered as well.

6. As God’s missionaries, we remember that we are coworkers with God; Jesus Christ is the victor over evil and shares that power over evil with us. We have to choose to do God’s work. Then we look to Jesus for help to get it done. Jesus overcame evil in his lifetime through his death and resurrection. Even Crucifixion did not kill Jesus or destroy his message. His resurrection is the ultimate victory over evil. Evil will never have the final say. We are not alone when we struggle with it because Jesus shares his power over evil with us.

7. Our mission is to live the gospel. This means that we are here to love each other and to share in God’s mission by what we do and what we say. We draw on our church life and its members to provide the methods, the support, the guidance, and the power to do God’s work.