I am trying to read a book, for those of you that read regularly (well in so far as I write regularly) you will know that I�m not very good at reading books but I am trying, I saw this one I a shop a few months ago and really wanted to read it. It�s part of the mission-shaped series, called mission-shaped but rural, it�s bizarrely written (no that sounds wrong but it will make sense) by Sally Gaze who is the Team Rector of the Tas Valley Benefice (that�s the bizarre bit as this is right next to the benefice in which I grew up in Norfolk).
Anyway to the point a couple of weeks ago I came across this quote (which actually comes from Tim Dearborn in his book �Beyond Duty: A passion for Christ, a heart for mission� and is then quoted in the original Mission-shaped church document.):-
“it’s not the Church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a church in the world�”
Since reading the quote I can�t get it out of my head. It seams to me (and this is the context in which the book is talking also) that as church when we think of the word mission it�s about reaching out into our communities or wherever it maybe to bring people into the church, the mission of the church is to bring people into itself. This quote challenges that perception and idea, when we look back to the New Testament, Jesus didn�t invent church to bring people into, church was what that came out of His ministry, a gathering of like minded people a community built up of people touched by His message. One of the biggest stumbling blocks I think many people I meet seem to have with Christianity is the church, the church is the portrayed image of what Christianity is and for many it�s an image that is out dated, in some cases severely outdated. So what then is the difference between these two outlooks? In the first situation the emphasis is upon the church, the church needs to be reaching out and bringing people in. The second situation is about bringing people into the Kingdom of God, bringing people into a relationship with God. Our mission should be God led not church led. Church then becomes a response to our relationship with God rather than our relationship with God becoming a response to our church. All to often we look to the second position, our relationship being based upon our churchmanship how we relate to God being the product of what we do when we meet together. Surly what we do when we meet together should be shaped by our relationship.
So what is the challenge?
Are we abut building up the church, or are we about building up the kingdom of God? I hope it�s the second option, but then the question is how do we reflect that in our ministry, what impact does that have on what we do and how we do it?