I'm continuing to post about some of the values of Emmaus Way. Many are following the evolution of this community in this space (BTW — our website will be up in 2 weeks!). Apologies to those of you who find these thoughts on mission as rudimentary. Only my creation of consolidation of this material into the specific categories is even remotely original. For those of you who are just getting acquainted with the concept of missional community (I had a great conversation with a new friend and local pastor who is courageously redefining the ministry of his very traditional/denominational church along these lines on Tuesday!) — I would recommend two books as thoughtful entries points —
The Church Between Gospel and Culture edited by George Hunsberger
The Continuing Conversion of the Church by Darrel Guder
“Mission” at Emmaus Way
Mission defines the soul of Emmaus Way. It guides our community formation and is the heart of our worship.
George Hunsberger and the GOCN network in last decade coined the phrase “missional church.” This new use of a familiar term stands as a correction and a challenge to current trends in many churches and Christian communities. In recent decades, the individualism and consumerism of our culture has become embedded in church life. Many churches have found themselves in the business of providing religious services and programs to Christian consumers. In this environment, churches have found themselves in a competitive posture with other faith communities, seeking to grow and win a greater “market share by providing programs that meet the needs and demands of potential attendees.
In contrast, the missional church seeks to encourage and empower its community to participate in God’s agenda. Attention is spent in discerning God’s agenda and mobilizing resources to participate in this agenda. Missional churches and communities seek to collaborate rather than to compete with a diversity of other fellowships. We are inspired by this vision of church.
When we speak specifically of mission, several passions come to mind:
• Breaking out of the rut or reduction of mission solely as evangelism in international settings accomplished by highly trained Christian “heroes” — the mission we hope to describe and embody is mission as a way of life for all who seek to follow the path of Christ. All of our life contexts are places of mission. Local initiatives will be valued as much as international ministries.
• Valuing God’s present kingdom as much at God’s eternal kingdom — Jesus spoke regularly of an immediate kingdom as well as a future kingdom. We will seek to follow Jesus’ teachings and to embody the spirit of his kingdom in our present time and context as well as to eagerly await the completion of God’s gracious redemption of creation.
• Having a cultural frame of reference that extends beyond that of affluent, western culture — so much of the church’s mission has been done from a western cultural perspective. We deeply desire to listen to and learn from other cultures and communities as we serve. To do this, we will try to form a diversity of ministry partnerships that challenge and stretch us. We will also seek to practice a “ministry of presence,” coming near those in different contexts as learners rather than problem-solvers. This will be particularly true for the poor, wounded, and dying who have so much to teach us about the reality of God’s vision and values.
Our desire is that missional way of life will shape our acts of community formation. In forming community, several missional values will stand at the forefront:
• Missional Diversity: Forming a diverse community that challenges us beyond our experiences and understandings of God.
• Missional Dependence: Living interconnected lives confronts the lonely individualism and self-reliance of our culture.
• Missional Proximity — Having a strong sense of “place” and living intentionally with the needs and issues of our community in mind.