Mission: Stumbling Forward
By Sandeep Jadhav
At its heart, “mission” refers to God’s revealing of himself to us. Jesus reveals God, who is love. In Jesus, we see that God reaches out toward us in self-giving sacrifice. Mission, says the late British pastor John Stott, “arises primarily out of the nature not of the church but of God himself.”
Mission is first what God does: he reaches out to us and shows us himself. In turn, the church is called to participate in God’s mission in the world by making Jesus manifest.
It is important for the church today to recover this missional calling. Here in metro Vancouver, our congregation both faces challenges and sees opportunities to be a Christian witness in our neighborhood. The area is incredibly diverse: more than half of residents were born outside of Canada and less than half speak English as their first language. We also have a high teen birthrate, many single-parent families, and high rates of homelessness. Like many cities, Vancouver is considered post-Christian.
It is in this context that our church is called to manifest the God who reaches out after others in self-giving sacrifice.
The missional call of the church can be summarized in three W’s: worship, with-ness, and witness. Worship: the beginning and goal of mission is the glory of God. With-ness: we are first and foremost called into relationship with God and others. Witness: the church must proclaim God’s good news of salvation in words and deeds.
Although we do worship God in our Sunday services, much of our missional call is lived out by individual members of the congregation in their daily lives. In a post-Christian society like Vancouver, we have the opportunity to help people enter into the practices of the Christian faith even before they come to active faith. For example, several Muslims volunteer at our church’s free store, which has given us a chance to be with our neighbors in a way we might not otherwise.
In many ways, mission is “showing up,” and that’s what I see happening in our church. We don’t do it perfectly; we have a long way to go in living out our theology. But at the very least, we are stumbling forward into God’s mission.
Sandeep Jadhav is pastor of New Life Community Church (RCA) in Burnaby, British Columbia.