Dec 5, 2001
by Dan Nighswander, general secretary
Many are asking the question "Can someone explain the difference between
what we were doing and what we are now, with this new term missional, supposed
to be doing?"
Astute observers recognize that the missional vision is a re-statement of what
has been the church's ideal since God called it into being. It is, after all,
the Biblical mandate. For Mennonites it is especially familiar because it describes
the Anabaptist understanding of the church. Simply put, the missional vision is
that the church is sent into the world to participate in God's mission of reconciling
all people to God, to fellow humans and to creation.
But the church has often fallen from this ideal. Consider the missional vision
as a tool that helps us think about all the hindrances that keep us from fulfilling
the vision we already hold. What questions does it prompt?
When we make a practice of distinguishing between God's mission and our own
agenda, we are not thinking missionally. When we ask God to bless our work, we
have lost the missional perspective. Instead of God helping us accomplish our
goals, Christians must determine what God is doing and align their attitudes and
activities with that. Does your congregation do this?
In your friendships, your daily labour, your volunteer work and the way you
use money, do you demonstrate that God's mission is your primary concern? Is your
sphere of mission both as close and as large as God's-"across the street
and around the world?" Does your congregation's life and "personality"
demonstrate an alignment with God's mission?
How does God's passion for reconciliation shape your attitudes and your behaviour
in the aftermath of September 11? What would your family and colleagues at work
say about you? What would they say about your congregation?
The question deserves a longer discussion and the answers will be different
in every setting. I invite you the Missional Travelbag on this web site, use the
study guide Discover Anew: What God calls us to do! in your congregation, and
view the new video, "A Missional Vision for Mennonite Church Canada"
sent recently to your church.
When the answer becomes clear, send it to us as a testimony to what the missional
vision means to you.