Monday, August 14, 2006

Mission - Day One

Several things have caused my mind to move to the topic of “mission” for this week. First, Presbyweb had a link called Mission Uncertain. Second, we are planning a mission trip for our church. Third, a key component of being a Purpose Driven Presbyterian Church is mission. And finally, a missionary (mission co-worker) blasted me several weeks ago when I was writing on the options that churches have in light of the PUP report (in those postings I did not advocate any particular option, rather, I looked at the pluses and minuses of each option). I have always been a strong advocate of mission. A church I was serving as an Associate Pastor was going to cut mission giving to be able to keep me on staff so we took another call so that mission would not get cut. I have, and will continue, to be an advocate for mission.

What exactly is “mission?” The “mission budget” of our presbytery use to have the executive presbyter’s salary package in it. Is that mission? The PCUSA has a group called Mission Responsibility Through Investment. Is this mission? People volunteer at a community food bank. Is that mission? People give $$$ to the mission budget of their church, yet, never lift a finger in mission work. Is that mission?

Years ago an Associate Pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church said that the Presbyterian Church has an “ethos of ambiguity.” He was correct and this ethos is killing us! We have no denominational definition for the word “mission.” We are experiencing mission chaos in the PCUSA because we cannot, or will not, define mission. I think that this is one reason that so many individuals and congregations started designating how their “mission $$$” were to be spent. I truly believe that more mission $$$ would flow into the PCUSA (or away if it were a bad definition) if we were to develop a concreted definition for “mission.”


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