Submitted by Dr. Garth Williams, Associate Executive Minister –
Let me start by saying that I am excited and humbled to now be a part of a staff that is committed to helping our churches discover the mission to which God has called them.
As I begin my journey with you as an Associate Executive Minister one of the primary questions my non-church friends have asked me is, “What exactly will you be doing?” To make it simple I tell them, “I have the best job in the world– I get to coach pastors and congregations on their journey to fulfill that to which God has called them.”
Although that’s not all that I (or we as a team) will do, it at least satisfies their curiosity and gives me a great place to launch this blog post.
In the Senior Staff Proposal that was released and subsequently approved by our constituency at Oasis 2011, a clear priority was given to re-writing our history now by making new priorities of church planting and new congregations as well as church renewal and missional emphasis. In fact, our goal is to see 65 new congregations by 2025 and 80% of our churches demonstrating a missional culture.
So let’s begin the conversation about creating a missional culture by emphasizing that we want to use this space to stimulate our thinking and share the stories about how God is moving amongst us as a people in this missional way so that we can inspire one another.
In stimulating our thinking let me ask you to consider the questions:
- Whose mission is it? Who sets the compass?
- Is it God’s mission or is it the Churches?
- Can the Church have a mission outside of the mission of God?
Let me suggest to you that the overriding mission is God’s and that the Church has a purpose to fulfill God’s mission.
Another way of saying this is that God sends his people (the church) to accomplish His mission. His mission that we are called to is both a mission of proclamation (The Great Commission) and of compassion (The Great Commandment). Our purpose as the Church is to live out in communities a way in which we are both compassionate demonstrators and proclaimers of God. Canadian Baptist Ministries communicates this by fusing the two together in Wordeed*. My friend and colleague Greg Jones says that this is the Church being committed to both Spiritual and Social transformation.
We the church are sent by God to fulfill His Mission. We are sent as missionaries into a culture that does not know Him to declare who He is in both word and action.
So what does this look like lived out?
Let me start the story telling by sharing one of the stories out of Union Street Atlantic Baptist Church where up until recently I had been privileged to pastor. Our journey toward being missional started very simply when we were approached about using space for a Government agency that helps prepare children affected with autism for kindergarten. I’d like to say that the decision was made simply and without concern. It wasn’t; in fact the whole discussion forced us to ask some of the questions surrounding mission that we visited above, as well as why we were here, why we had a building – were we entrusted with this building only to serve ourselves?
Eventually we were able to offer our facility free of charge to be able to help meet the needs of children with autism, which in and of itself was awesome, but the effect of that decision and conversation began to open doors in our community which we were able to walk through as God led us to be His people sent on mission to our local community.
Over the years we have been given the privilege to establish partnerships with local schools, mental health and a local community parent support group. There was no shortage of opportunity to engage in social transformation. Over the years we waited and watched to see what God was going to do to give us new avenues of proclamation and opportunity for spiritual transformation.
It happened last fall.
During our start up for the fall season we noticed a number of new faces showing up who had no church connection at all. As we began to ask what drew them to us the responses caused us to smile. Here are two of the ladies responses . . . “Well, I knew that if I was to find out about God and go to church I wanted to go to a church that cared about its community. Here at Union Street you care about your community.” The other, in responding identified a food security ministry that we operating, saying “Although my family isn’t on the backpack program I have friends whose kids are, and if I’m going to go to church it’s going to be at a place where they care enough to do something.”
My last Sunday at Union Street I baptized one of those ladies.
Where word and deed collide, where social and spiritual transformations intertwine, where the good news is proclaimed and demonstrated in compassion . . . that’s where the church joins God on His mission. That is Missional.
Now please share with us your stories of God’s missional call to you and your congregations write us or send us a video clip of how you are help God fulfill his mission.
*wordeed is a copyright of CBM