Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Mission Field

For much of my formative years the mission field for Christians lay somewhere in “Darkest Africa”, or in “South America”, or in “The East”. I no longer believe this. I believe that the mission field for Christian people lies inside of organised Christianity. There are some very unChristian places, where people practice Christianity for their own personal benefit. I speak of those who offer the love of Christ with one hand, and the offering plate with the other; people who want to heal you, while offering you their banking details; people who ask for your support to make them a Bishop, or the President of a Church Organisation, and then ignore your needs while they wheel and deal in the business of Church politics.

I used to think of the Church as a platform from which mission is launched into the Community. I now realise that the Community is the platform from which the Church must be engaged – because the Church lives in isolation from society. We Church People go about our rounds of prayer meetings, Sunday services, money collecting, and general Churchiness, with little or no reference to our community.

I am about to go to a church Synod in Cape Town – with little hope that this gathering of Christian leadership will engage in the issues of this city. Cape Town is experiencing debilitating political conflict in City Government, the desolation of tens of thousands of people living in shacks, the pain of many more people living with HIV/Aids, and the glaring inequity of wealth between Bishops Court/Camps Bay/Durbanville on the one hand and Khayelitsha/Cape Flats on the other. This Church Synod will discuss the dwindling congregational numerical returns, the financial struggle to pay salaries, how to keep gay people out of the church, and the jockeying for position of various clergy intent on becoming the next Bishop!

Please pray for us – that God will raise up missionaries from the Community who will disrupt our proceedings with the real problems of our society.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gheesh - there's a reality check! I'm also making my way to a synod this week, but as a candidate for ministry - excited and full of naive optimism...

I've also been disillusioned with church meetings in the past - they do often seem to miss the point. I was pleasantly surprised though by the national conference last year. I went expecting to be swamped by politics and other agendas (and to be sure that stuff was happening), but came away enthused by what else was happening on a national level in our church. Listening to the stories of individual delegates was inspiring and encouraging.

Amongst all the fallen motives, there are some amazing people in our church, deeply committed to serving God's people in their communities. Don't give up hope - there'll be others who need to hear your stories at your synod!

Gus said...

Keep up the optimisim even though the naivity leaves you in the first few weeks.

Some how we have to believe that God is speaking and will speak... I am at college this year and I guess this will be my last year without synod.

The Rock in the Grass once reminded me to remember that the church is a mission field, kinda ready made. I appreciate that advice and try to put it into action in any subversive way I can.

God Bless for the Synod anonymous.

digitaldion said...

I agree with anonymous M! There is great hope! My own feeling is a bit like Pete's though, it is probably not going to come from SYNOD.

Sure, there is much in the institution that could lead to struggle and dismay. However, God's infinite hope is in the frail and fledgling members who truly are the Church!

Whilst the Bishops, Superintendents, Ministers, and Leaders may think they are the Church, God's great hope lies with the people who attend the WA meetings, with the Women's Manyano's, the Guilds, the Cell groups, the worship teams (with bad voices and out of tune guitars).

In fact, I have come to realise that God's greatest hope for the Church is not the SYNOD, it is the Sunday School!

And, God's greatest hope for the world is not a perfect institution, it is imperfect people.

How about that!?

Much blessing with your candidature M! I look forward to hearing great things!

'semper reformandum' (as JC was known to say.... No not Jesus Christ, John Calvin... One is the Lord, the other just thought he was...)

Gus said...

Hallelujah!

It's weird, but sometimes I forget that. Yet, thats what we're about... Then I really love the church! (The structure is a necessary evil, like spending your money on tyres when you really want an mp3 player... I think.)

(Its always about a gadget with me.)