What is Mission For?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8
I recently returned from the adult and family mission trip to El Salvador where we worked alongside our ministry partner, Sus Hijos. Before going, I reviewed some of my notes from a missiology (study of a religious mission) class I took in seminary. It was a class that transformed my understanding of mission work and how to go about doing it.

Before taking the course, I had gone on a handful of trips in my teenage years but never took the time to really study what Christian mission was about. As a teenager, the underlying assumption was that I had something that others did not have, whether believing in the Gospel or having material goods. The goal of mission work is to share those things with others who are less fortunate. The classic line that we missioners always said after a trip was that we received more than we gave to others.

And then, I read a quote from the great theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, that reshaped my perspective. He said, “It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the Church.” (J. Moltmann, “The Church in the Power of the Spirit,” pg. 64)

Hold on, it is not my mission (or our mission), but God’s mission? Of course, that is the case, but I had never thought about it that way. With that in mind, the giver and receiver are both called to participate in the work of God. Those who do mission work are called to participate in the work that God is already doing in that particular place, among those people. Instead of rushing into action, we are invited to seek — and then witness — God’s ongoing work.

I wonder what it would be like if we looked at how God is already working in our world with fresh eyes. How might we meet Him in His ongoing work? And how might we look for Him most, especially in our community?
The Rev. Wesley Arning
Associate for Young Adult and Small Group Ministry
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