Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mission--Two Suggestions

Yesterday I asked the question: “Is it mission if the Gospel isn’t communicated?” The answer would appear to be obvious. However, the answer is not so obvious when a denomination, presbytery or local church doesn’t have a strong definition of mission. Social justice work is not necessarily mission. Feeding the poor is not necessarily mission. Providing housing for the homeless is not necessarily mission. The church of Jesus Chris must be involved in all of these endeavors. Just don’t call it mission unless the saving grace of Jesus Christ is communicated.

“I witness to Jesus through my actions.” Have you heard someone say something like that? I have heard those words come from too many Presbyterians. Do we need actions? Yes, we do. The problem is that actions alone do not communicate the good news of Jesus Christ. Years ago I met a person named Guy. He was a great person. He cared for people. He helped people. He was not a Christian—in fact, his parents had raised him to believe that Christianity was not true and that Christians were not to be trusted. He did as many, if not more, acts of kindness than any Christian. His actions did not communicate the good news of Jesus Christ; they communicated that he was a compassionate person. What are we as Christians (and Presbyterians) communicating?

One thing that has troubled me as I read through the multitude of web pages for our mission co-workers is how few of those pages mention anything about spreading the gospel. I realize that not all mission workers can be “open” about sharing the gospel lest governmental authorities kick them out of the country or imprison them. Yet, I do not see that as being the issue in most cases of our Presbyterian mission co-workers. The vast majority of countries where our people are serving are not in those types of hostile countries. Our co-workers could very well be sharing the gospel. If they are, why don’t they tell us so? Evergreen Presbyterian Church (the church I serve) supports a mission worker in Chile (not a Presbyterian). His primary work is in the field as he supports indigenous pastors. He is very vocal on how the lives of people are transformed when they give their lives to Christ. He shares about how his ministry is helping build up the Kingdom of God in Chile. If we found out today that he needed $10,000 by next Monday for a critical aspect of his mission/ministry I am confident that the people of our 100 member church would come up with the money. He is on the front lines of mission and communicates it to his supporters.

I have two suggestions for the PCUSA if it wants to tap into the flow of mission dollars coming out of our congregations. First, make sure that our mission co-workers are involved in sharing the gospel. We have to be different from the Red Cross and other relief agencies. We are a part of the Church of Jesus Christ! Secondly, the PCUSA needs to get much better at communicating what our mission co-workers actually do. The PCUSA needs to pull at the heart-strings of the people in the pews. An example of this type of communication is one couple who are mission co-workers. Meet Reyna and Ricardo Green (they are stationed in Brazil). Their web page clearly states that he is a seminary professor and works with planting churches. Supporting a seminary professor does not necessarily pull at the heart-strings of the average Presbyterian; planting churches in Brazil excites the average Presbyterian. Following these two suggestions will go a long way in ensuring a constant flow of mission dollars to the PCUSA.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home