In their 1980 comedy film, The Blues Brothers, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd made popular the phrase “We’re on a mission from God.” For decades, we’ve talked about the church having a mission, but it may be more accurate to declare that God’s mission has a church (or a denomination)!
“Missional” has become the buzzword for a lot of churches, but some confusion has surfaced in the process. Missio Dei, the mission of God, deserves clarity for us as churches, and certainly for us as a denomination.
Missional is not an outreach program, a ministry to the marginalized, a “seeker-sensitive” strategy, nor attention to social justice concerns, although it may include all of these. It is first and foremost a recognition that God is redeeming humanity and creation, and that he has called his people, primarily through the church, to be agents on this mission of his (John 1:14–18; 17:18, 20–23; 20:21). God invites us – as individuals, as churches, and as a denomination – to come alongside what he is doing.
Fleshing out the good news
Just as the Father sent the Son and the Spirit, the Son sends the church to live out this mission of reconciliation, restoration, and redemption in the world. More than inviting the world to us, we are called to “flesh out” the good news of the gospel in our neighbourhoods.
The incarnational dimensions of living in God’s mission are:
• being present among the people,
• living in proximity with them,
• demonstrating humble powerlessness as we trust in God,
• practically living this reconciliation as we serve “the least of these” in Jesus’ name (Matthew 25:37–40),
• and, of course, proclaiming the good news of salvation in Christ (Romans 10:8–17).
God empowers us in community to holistically communicate the gospel message of God’s reign to a specific location (or locations) in Canada. Every disciple is an agent of this good news of forgiveness and reconciliation; we have the opportunity to participate!
Call to sacrifice
God’s mission requires our best; it’s a call to sacrifice. Do you believe this world is broken and in need of restoration by a loving Father? In our society, or even in our churches, can we see the effects of sin (our ultimate personal desires that push God to the side) that need to be brought under God’s authority? Do we believe Jesus Messiah is really the only hope for the world, the one who truly saves us from the inside out?
Do we believe God has called the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches to join him on his mission of reaching Canada with the good news of Jesus Christ? Can we envision being a denomination that goes beyond ourselves to join with others who have the same passion and vision of being part of God’s mission?
God is on a mission and we have the opportunity to be part of it. It will mean joining together in prayer, in service, in hard work, in selfless giving, and in grace toward one another.
God is at work!
Paul J. Loewen is moderator of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches and serves as transitional pastor at Waterloo (Ont.) MB Church.