Building Stronger Ambassadors: an Introduction
[From The Rev. William D. Roberts, Rector, St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Deerfield, IL. Bill gave this workshop at the 2003 Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. Bill also used this material and the worksheets with his EFM Group as part of Common Lesson 5 for Year B.]
In his first letter to the church in Corinth, St. Paul writes: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
In his book, When the Members are the Missionaries, Wayne Schwab distinguishes between “body-missions” and “member-missions.” Body-missions are missions undertaken by the congregation as the body of Christ, either within or beyond the congregation, and most churches are organized around “body-missions.”
Body-missions within St. Gregory’s congregation, for example, include Task Groups, like the Vestry, Altar Guild, and Buildings and Grounds Management Team; Learning Groups, like the Sunday School and Education for Ministry [EFM] Program; Fellowship Groups, like the Better-Than-Evers for parishioners over 50 years of age, and the Bridge Clubs; and Support Groups for Daily Living, like the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew, the Daughters of the King, and the Thursday Morning Bible Study.
Body-missions beyond St. Gregory’s congregation include providing and serving meals at the Christ Church, Waukegan, Soup Kitchen, supporting the ex-offenders at St. Leonard’s House in Chicago, and leading worship Sunday mornings at Brentwood.
Member-missions are the missions members undertake in their daily mission fields. The church as the body of Christ is not usually present where key social, economic, and political policies and decisions are made, but its members are. Consequently, individual members of the body of Christ are sometimes better placed to transform not only other persons but also the communities, organizations, and institutions where they live and work.
The mission fields where member-missions happen include our homes, where we work, our local community, the wider world, where we relax or enjoy our leisure time, and even our own church.
Body-missions and member-missions need missionaries. A missionary is someone who acts in each mission field because he or she is committed to doing the Lord’s work there faithfully. A missionary is also someone who worships faithfully in order to receive the Word of God and the Sacraments of the church in the company of other sisters and brothers in Christ. A missionary listens to the Word of God in scriptures and sermons for encouragement in the purpose and direction of the mission. A missionary participates in the Sacraments of the church for power to carry on the mission.
Our missionary spirituality as Episcopalians is found in the service of Holy Baptism, beginning on page 299 of The Book of Common Prayer, and especially in The Baptismal Covenant, pages 304-305. The inspiration for that missionary spirituality draws especially on St. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. I have placed these two sources for our missionary spirituality in parallel columns. Note the circumstances in which St. Paul is writing: he is in prison for his member-mission as an evangelist for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Two worksheets following this summary of our Episcopalian mission spirituality will help you identify your formation as a missionary, your mission fields, and your member-missions.
4 “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift… 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints [missionaries]
with knowledge and community
with spiritual nourishment
with the power of prayer
with forgiveness and new opportunities
for the work of ministry, [mission]
to increase love (caring)
to increase justice (fairness)
to increase peace (reconciliation)
for building up the body of Christ.”
There is one Body and one Spirit;
There is one hope in God’s call to us;
One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism;
One God and Father of all.
Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
1 The Book of Common Prayer. page 299
2 in the New Testament
3 the Church or body of Christ
4 the Holy Eucharist
5 The Book of Common Prayer, page 304
6 the General Confession; the Sacrament of Reconciliation
7 Peace (Acts 10:36); Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20
8 The Book of Common Prayer, page 305