Living Our Baptism Monday Through Saturday

By James Gill

A 20-MINUTE INTRODUCTION

[Ministry Fair, Saturday, September 20, 2003.]

[This 20-minute session was part of an hour devoted to “Discernment” at the diocese’s third annual ministry fair. About 20 people participated. The following was the first of three pages of handouts. While it was simply read through, it can produce questions or comments.]

When the Members are the Missionaries: An Extraordinary Calling for Ordinary People

by A. Wayne Schwab

“God is most concerned about how we live from Monday to Saturday. Sunday is to help us do it better.”

“How do I start looking at the world through God’s eyes as his agent?”

“Usually we think of mission / ministry as ‘what the church does in the world’ . . . When we say ‘church’ we usually mean the congregation or some larger church body. We don’t think of what the individual church members ‘do in the world’ as mission / ministry.”

We each have six fields, or areas, of our mission / ministry:

Home, Work, Local Community, Larger Community, Leisure, and Church

What are we doing or needs doing in each of these fields to make life better there?

Our theology is: God is on mission everywhere all the time. God’s characteristic work is love and justice. Wherever you find love and justice, God is at work. However and wherever you are working for love and / or justice, you are part of God’s mission. You have already found a mission / ministry you are in right now.

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[The following was on a next page and used to illustrate discerning one’s mission at home. The participants could be asked to imagine and to share how they might answer the various questions. Special attention was given to questions 5 to 7 on team building with the leader using a current mission in his own home to illustrate.]

Discerning my Present Mission at Home (one I am carrying on or will start to carry on)

1. What has God been doing or telling me through my life in my home? [Try a response beginning with: “I believe God is . . . .”]

2. What conditions inhibit reconciliation, justice, and love (peacemaking, fairness, and caring) in my home?

3. What change is needed to increase reconciliation, justice, and love (peacemaking, fairness, and caring) in my home?

4. What, specifically, will I do to achieve this change considering my gifts, limitations, and convictions? [Limit yourself to just one action of mission.]

5. What vision (description of what I will do) will I use to recruit a “team” to work with me to achieve this change? [Answer with words you might actually use with a possible teammate: “ . . . .”]

6. As I recruit or work with my “teammate/s,” how will I talk of God while I am sharing my vision (what I plan to do) or following through on it? [Answer with words you might actually use with a possible teammate: “ . . . .”]

7. How will I invite my “teammate/s” to join me at Jesus’ table to be fed and empowered to achieve this vision? (How will I encourage others to seek help in church life?) [Answer with words you might actually use with a possible teammate: “ . . . .”]

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[The following page was used to highlight the support available for congregations seeking to put the vision to work.]

WHEN THE MEMBERS ARE THE MISSIONARIES:

  An Extraordinary Calling for Ordinary People – A. Wayne Schwab

MAKING THE VISION WORK – The vision and the book have a variety of backups to help you to grow into and to use them.

•Member Mission Newsletter – Monthly News from across the church of who is doing what that you can learn from; updates on revisions of resources; and session plans. Subscribe by going to the website below and clicking on Making the Vision Work > Member Mission Newsletters > Add Me to the Newsletter List.

•Website Go to www.membermissionpress.org for these and other helps and ideas.

•Consulting with the Member Mission Team Member Mission Consultants are ready to work on site or by telephone, fax, or email – on site or by telephone work best. Fax: 518-963-754; Email: membermission@aol.com.

•Consulting with Your Peers – a Network Seek help from the people / institutions with whom we are working. On the website, click on Making the Vision Work > Peer Consultation.

EDITORIAL COMMENT AND LISTINGS

“Books for Congregational Clergy/Leaders” at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/mdl/books.html,

the joint website of The Episcopal Church and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for Ministry in Daily Life

The Call, September 2003, Divisions for Ministry and for Congregational Ministries, ELCA: Listed among new resources.

Episcopal Life, February 2003: “This book helps members to connect what they say and hear during Sunday worship with the rest of their week.”

The Gospel and Our Culture, March and June 2003: listed in “Some Basic Literature of the North American Movement.”

Links, United Methodist Church, May 2003: “‘Body-mission’ by congregational groups has gotten all the attention; ‘member-mission’ by individual members in their daily lives finally takes over.”

The Living Church, October 6, 2002: “Real-life case studies and a broad interpretation of mission work elevate this book.”

The Missionary, Diocese of Northern California, June 2003: “This book is about the way ordinary Christians live Monday to Saturday and it is long overdue. It moves us from the seductive power of numbers toward vibrant mission in the daily areas in which the laity find themselves.

The Northeast, Diocese of Maine, April 2003: “Schwab’s proposed reorganization allows churches to move beyond the time-honored and clergy-centered patterns we have inherited from the past.”

Lutheran Partners, September/October 2003, ELCA: “The author observes that those with leadership responsibilities have not always taught ‘that each of us is on mission to transform those parts of the world in which we move’” (p. 133).

Review of Religious Research, March 2003: “This accessible volume can be read by both clergy and laity as an introduction to revitalizing the congregation.”

Vestry Papers, September/October 2003, The Episcopal Church Foundation: “Easing the Load – Missionaries One and All,” by A. Wayne Schwab (pp. 3-4).

The Voice, Diocese of Newark, June2003: “Early comments call the book an ‘easy read’ that reports on things that anyone can do.”

Worship Planning Helps, General Board of Discipleship, United Methodist Church: References appear occasionally as resources for worship planning http://gbod.org/worship.

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[This order form was on the back side of the third page.]

When the Members are the Missionaries: An Extraordinary Calling for Ordinary People by A. Wayne Schwab

Is not God most concerned about how we live from Monday to Saturday? Are not Sunday and all of church life intended to provide guidance and power for our Monday to Saturday living?

Baptism is joining the mission of Jesus Christ to make the world a better place with God’s help. In today’s world, the most effective agents of the mission are each of the baptized as they go about their daily lives at home, at work, in their local communities, in the wider world (everything from popular culture to government), and their leisure / recreation, as well as in their churches. The real delivery point of mission today is these six daily arenas – the daily “mission fields” of the baptized.

It is time for the way Christians live from Monday to Saturday to get the attention it deserves. “Body-mission” – what a committee of a congregation or the congregation as a whole does – still gets all of the attention. A book on “member-mission” – on what each member does in his or her daily life – is long overdue.

This book extends the popular notion of “mission” to the members as they bring love and justice in deed and word to each of their daily arenas – with God’s help. Through a glimpse into the everyday lives of fifteen ordinary people, the book tells their stories to show how mission transforms life with the power of God’s love and justice working in and through them. How congregations can organize themselves to help their members to live their daily missions this way follows the stories. (232 pp.)

[Jim Gill, 37 Brunswick Avenue, Gardiner, ME 04345.]