This past weekend, the elders of the Northwest Church spent 12 hours over Friday and Saturday working through thoughts of mission, values, and vision for this church. It was stimulating, exciting, difficult, challenging, and in the end, we walked away with a renewed sense of mission, and committed to the soul-searching process of yielding ourselves fully to what God wants to do with His people in this place.
There are many ways to do things, as we know. Culture is inescapable, and each generation must wrestle with new and dynamic expressions of life in God’s Kingdom. We live in an age of change almost beyond apprehension. I am convinced, with the Ecclesiastes writer, that nothing is new. Yet, I am equally convinced that the only constant is change. (Maybe not the only constant.) But the move from modernity to postmodernity to whatever’s next, the advance of personal technology, the rise of mass media and the image, globalization, renewed energy concerning social justice, the viral nature of cyberspace information and connectivity, and the sheer speed of the world facing young people today–all of this means we are in a moment of cultural shift equivalent to the days of Gutenberg.
The word “missional” keeps popping up. The missional conversation reflected in some of the links on the blogroll is very compelling, yet speaks a language and orientation foreign to traditional church culture. In missional thinking, the core idea seems to be a missionary stance to local culture, a stance owned by each member of the congregation. Missional thinking acknowledges that we now walk in a foreign culture, though geographically we may have never moved from the street we were born on. Patterns of ideas, the dominant images in thought-life, notions of family, relationship, responsibility and rights–and yes, the idea of church–for the regular Jane and Joe on the street, these things have changed since the days of our elders.
But one thing we know: the mission of God has not changed. He is still seeking the people He loves. He comes after them with compassion and grace, even as they destroy themselves. To be saved is something far more profound than punching a ticket for heaven, and the kingdom is something far greater than a cloudy realm with gold bricks to walk on. The thing that was exciting about the Elders’ retreat was simply this: we know in our guts that we want to join God’s mission. What greater way to spend life than to spread the good news of the Kingdom, that love and hope are possible, that darkness will not trump the light, and that the call of God contained in every encounter with beauty is a call that’s true, coming from a home that waits for us both in the now and the not-yet.
We know there’s an agent in the world that seeks to destroy us, and we talked about that, too. But scripture is unequivocal–that war’s been won.
Here’s the mission as it currently reads:
To join God’s Spirit in spreading His Kingdom, calling all people to follow Jesus, transforming life and community in His love.
Come and see…