Class is in session. I’m at the Northwest District Conference in Spokane, WA, and I just finished a class with Gabe Barreiro. He has a particular focus on mission, church planting and Next Gen ministries. During the workshop, which was on the theme of developing a domestic missiology, I took down a paraphrase of something Gabe said.
Mission from within.
He was unpacking the foundations of domestic missiology in terms of Trinitarian missiology. God the Father initiates mission because of his love. God the Son incarnates the mission of God. God the Holy Spirit ignites the church with supernatural power, in love, to engage in the mission. Mission is a Trinitarian construct.
It was during the discussion of Jesus incarnating that I wrote down the phrase – I don’t know if Gabe said it that way or if I was taking shorthand, because there were a lot of good words coming at a mighty fine pace! Still, I have been considering those words. What does it mean for the church to live mission from within? So often, mission work is understood as a going to a people. It’s an invading, over an incarnating. Whether that is the intention or not, our passion to pursue the mission at high-speed is perceived with disdain and, sometimes, as an aggressive move. It certainly isn’t the ministry of reconciliation that we should desire it to be!
But when we consider what Christ did for us – he left from glory, he was born a baby, he grew and developed in a particular culture, at a particular time, for a specific reason – then we can begin to reconsider our missiology as one of incarnation. This is not startlingly new in terms of missiological study and thought, but there was a freshness to the idea that captured me.
What would it mean for Cornerstone, in Nampa, to live mission from within? Rather than just turning up and telling people what they need and how they should get it, what would it look like to be with the people, for the people? It’s a priestly kind of move, and one that would give much more space for the prophetic call to be issued in the speaking of God’s word. Rather than viewing the people groups of Nampa as outsiders, what if we became insiders? What if we were known as “friends of sinners” and really knew, really served, really loved the very people we long to share good news with?
This kind of missiology is for the long-haul. You don’t get to “mission from within” overnight. You get there, as another pastor commented in a different session, by praying, preaching and plodding. You get there by what I call ‘faithful presence”. We need some people to hear the call and “Go!” but we also absolutely, undeniably, need others to hear the call and, “Stay!” Your faithful, seemingly weak, daily commitment to love Jesus and love people in your neighborhood, your workplace, your city, provides the faithful presence of the body of Christ, broken for the lost, and the love of the Father, overflowing through you, and all empowered by the Holy Spirit, who regenerates and restores what was dead and broken into something beautiful that glorifies God.
May we be the church, living mission from within the spaces God has called us into.