Mission, the Church, and You Sermon

By Elizabeth S. Hall

Helping members to see that God’s mission has a church rather than the church has a mission; and to discover their part in God’s mission in each area of their daily life.

[6/27/10; illustrated with slides]

Slide 1 – Mission: Part 2
(Hand out worksheet.)
Welcome to part 2 of our discussion about missions.  Today, I’m going to do a quick review of what we talked about three weeks ago since a number of you weren’t there and others, like me, have been on vacation and forgotten everything they heard.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  After a quick review, we’ll take a look at how you can figure out your own missions using the worksheet you’ll soon have in front of you as an example.  We’ll then turn to how your church can support you and help you do what you feel called to do better.

Slide 2 – Review
This is our quick review.  We’ll move kind of fast. So, if you’d like to hear more about these next 5 slides, go to our website and click on the sermons link and play the one from June 6th.

Slide 3 – Basics
God’s mission is to reconcile us to him and to each other, bring love and justice to all people, and bring all of creation together in harmony.

“…Mission has a church…” – Our church is not an island of Christianity or sanity, it is part of a larger whole.

Slide 4 – Missions and Missionaries
No denigration of mission here.  Just incomplete.
The key here is for us to open up our common definitions of mission and missionary and be more inclusive.  Just about anybody of any age and status can be a missionary.  Mission can take you to Timbuktu or it can take you to Main St. Meridian, Idaho.  Both of these types of missions are valuable to God and important.

Slide 5 – Mission in your life
We all operate every day in these six interlocking spheres.  We have a home life, work life, we have a local community and are part of the wider world, we have time off sometimes, and we go to church.  Each of these circles represents an area of our lives that’s distinct from the others and so offers fresh opportunities for mission.

Slide 6 – Partners
Here’s the key to this slide.  Your partners may not be who you expect.  Sometimes you get someone who is your polar opposite either religiously, politically, personally – none of that matters.  If that’s the person God seems to be leading you to say, “Thank you” and move on.  You never know what God is trying to do in their lives.

Slide 7 – Gifts and Missions
What you really need to remember from this slide is to take the mission God hands you and just figure that if you don’t have the skills or gifts to do it, he’ll either bring you a partner with those gifts or skills or develop them in you.  God is more invested in this mission than you are and he wouldn’t choose you to do it if you couldn’t do it.

Slide 8 – Just do it
This is the key to everything I’ll ever say on the subject of missions.  Just do it.

Slide 9 – Remember the rain
Remember that life is like driving in the rain at night.  The rain represents the everyday distractions that make it so hard to see those mile-markers in life.  Those mile-markers are your missions.  So, if you’re waiting for the rain to stop to start your missions – you’ll never start at all.  Instead, pray for God to take away all of that “stuff” of every day life so that you can focus on what He wants you to focus on.  Keep your eyes on the mile-markers and pray away the rain.

Slide 10 – Identifying one of your own missions
So now, we get to forge on ahead.  I’m going to talk you through identifying one of your own missions and then you’ll understand the process better and can do it on your own.  You should all have the worksheet for home by now so let’s start with that.  BTW, do you remember that story I told you last time about the subway door assembly worker?  He did exactly what you’re about to do and that’s how he figured out that what he was called to do was to refuse to build substandard doors.

Slide 11 – Worksheet for your Home Mission
This is the worksheet you have in front of you.  It has 8 questions that you’ll answer to determine your mission at home.  We won’t actually be doing this now but I will help you understand what to do and how the process usually works using a real world example.  This is a pretty common situation and I think many of you will be able to identify with it.

Slide 12 – Pray first
This step is absolutely critical.  Notice how this lady is off by herself.  She’s quiet, centered, and focused – not on a noisy TV in the background or kids on the phone – she’s focused solely on God and the message He has for her.

You have to get quiet.  You have to make space for yourself and God.  That’s the first step.  Then, just wait until something starts to bubble up.  You may get it immediately or you may feel you’re getting something but aren’t sure what that message is.  Anyway, wait a few minutes or so and then start on question 1.

Slide 13 – Question 1
After praying and reflecting on God’s message for you, jot down whatever comes to you about your home life.  This process is self-correcting.  You heard me talk about that last time so don’t worry if you’re not sure you have it right.

The example that we’re going to use is based on a mother, Emily, who has three teenagers and everyone in her family was just on the go all of the time.  She felt like she hardly knew her own kids anymore.  We’re going to follow Emily through the process as she did this worksheet and answered the questions about her own home life.

The message she got with question 1 was that her family was too fractured.  She’d sensed for a while that she needed to pull things back together and get reconnected as a family.

Slide 14 – Question 2
In question 2 her goal was a simple one: just to spend some time with her kids with no distractions.  That meant no TV, computers, texting, the whole bit.  Just time to talk to each other and be together.

Slide 15 – Question 3
When Emily got to question 3 she mentioned that she tried to get the family to eat together sometimes which was really hard with sports and other after school activities and she always tried to ask them how their day had been.

Slide 16 – Question 4
With question 4, Emily simply wrote that what she was doing was not enough and that she needed to do more.

Slide 17 – Question 5
Now, question 5 is the kicker on this whole worksheet.  This is where intention becomes real, measurable action.  For Emily, it consisted of one small step.  She could have tried to do five different things all at once, but she resisted that temptation and settled on the plan of simply making Tuesday night “Family Night”.  Tuesday was the only day that the family had together and Emily decided to take advantage of it.  Her plan was just to try to have Family Night once a week for three weeks.  That was it.  Just a first step.

Slide 18 – Question 6
For Emily, she realized she needed to get her husband, Mike, on board.  Since Mike was not a churchgoer, she knew she’d have to be very straight-forward and use non-religious language.  In the end, she decided to say that she knew he wanted more family time just like she did and she wondered if he’d be willing to try to have a weekly family night.  She spoke to him when he was relaxed and in words she knew he would respond to.

Slide 19 – Question 7
Now, questions 7 and;8 may not be questions you can answer right away.  In question 7, you’re talking to your partner about the connection between what you’re doing and God’s mission.  Some of you will have missions where your partners will be other Christians and so you can talk about this right away, maybe even when you approach them.

For Emily, she knew she’d have to wait to talk to her husband Mike about this, as well as her kids.  But, in a few months if all was going well that might be a great time to mention that she had felt that she “should” start spending more time with the kids and could talk about why.   Notice that she’s pretty indirect here.  She’s not making overt links between church and the mission she feels she’s on.  Now, this is her approach and really, it’s all about the listener.  Talk to them in words they use and understand easily and say what God leads you to say.

Slide 20 – Question 8
Question 8 is much the same.  I know that many of us are scared off by the idea of talking to people about church.  Just remember that you never know why God brought someone to you as a partner but this much you can be sure of: God wants to draw your partner closer especially if he or she is not a churchgoer.  The parable of the lost sheep.  Again, notice that what Emily says is geared towards keeping her husband open to the idea.  Pray for the words and they’ll come.

Slide 21 – The Road Map
Remember, that we talked about the road map as a kind of short hand way to keep track of your missions so you don’t lose focus when it’s pouring rain in your life.

This is Emily’s home mission part of the road map.  She knows what she wants to do and that she needs Mike to help her.  She’s even thought about what to say to him when she approaches him about starting a family night.

Slide 22 – The pattern of every worksheet
The pattern of the questions that you’ll be answering for your home is the same pattern you’ll see on every worksheet.  So, you can go home with the worksheet you have and answer the questions about work or your local community if you’d like.  Just try it, Pray for help and see what happens.  BTW – I have a full packet of slides available for each area of your life if you’d like on googledocs or I can send you the file directly.  Just let me know.  And, if you’d like some more help or guidance with doing this, I’m always here.  I’ve done it and helped others do it as well.

Slide 23 – Your Church and Your Missions
Now we’ll turn to how your church can help you do your missions.

Slide 24 – Basics
Before we go on, there’s just one extra thing I have to add to our list of important theological points.  This is probably pretty obvious.

Slide 25 – Why do I need to go to church to be on mission?
Somebody’s got to be wondering why you need this place if you can just work with God and go out and do your missions.  It’s not that simple because I can tell you from experience, that when you are working on a mission, you have to stay very centered.  You’re going to need prayer support, advice, and the power that can only come from God.  You need the relationships that you can only get here.  Do you remember we talked about people who are not Christians but who are very effective missionaries?  It’s certainly doable but it’s hard!  It’s like trying to play shortstop and first base at the same time.  Why work that hard?  God already has a team and you can be on it.

And these people here?  I’m telling you from experience that God will use them to direct and help you.  How many times have you been in church and someone randomly comes up to you and says something or Tom makes a quick point in a sermon and you suddenly have the answer to a question you’ve had or just feel that the words you heard were bigger for you than maybe even the speaker realized?  It happens all of the time because nowhere else is the focus on God and what He calls us to do, nowhere else do you get so many people together who are at different places in their walk trying to help each other, nowhere else is there a guy whose sole job it is to help us better understand, love, and work with God. Nowhere.  This place is not just special, it’s essential.  It’s holy work we’re doing here.  Now, do we do it perfectly?  Nope.  Sorry, we’re still human but these people, this place, are worth investing in.  This is God’s place and your place and it has no equal.

Slide 26 – Everything a church does can support members in their missions
Believe it or not, once a church gets into really supporting its members in their missions, everything they do can reflect that.  Church school can reinforce the lesson of service to others and listening to and obeying the Lord.  Small groups can be places where people share about what they are doing and ask for advice and prayer support.  And stewardship can become less about paying for the building and more about ensuring that there is a place where people come together to support one another and make important changes in the world.  Everything is bigger and more important than it seems.

Slide 27 – the Church Road Map
Just as you can have a personal road map, a church can also have a road map that identifies just what a church wants to accomplish and to make a plan to get it done.  This church road map is filled out for preparation of its next confirmation class.

Slide 28 – Feeling like this?
I know this is a lot to absorb so…..

Slide 29 – BLUF
There’s a great Army saying, “BLUF”.  It means “bottom line up front”.  So, if out of all that I’ve said I hope you can retain these three critical points.

[Elizabeth S. Hall, Parish Assistant, Common Ground Covenant Church, Author; Boise, ID.]