Thursday, June 23, 2005

Defined by mission or reduce the gospel...

I thought about something I had heard from a fellow salvation army colleague- "if no-one got saved through an community outreach activity at our corps (church) in a year - I'd close it!!"


I had those words streaming through my mind as I watched our latest youth club in action - now into its second week. I had those words streaming through my mind as twelve or so new young people came up into our youth club. Twelve young people with various degrees of special needs and learning difficulties. I had those words streaming through my mind as I watched Jane with Cerebral Palsy; Tom and Richie with Downs syndrome and others with obvious difficulties. I had those words streaming through my mind as I watched the whole group engaging with all our facilities, playing PS2, Game - cube, pool, table-tennis - so happy to be there.

I looked into the eyes of Jane playing PS2 eye-toy's wishy washy as I dodged the flaying, thrashing arms and I saw joy and happiness etched into her face and I thought how could someone get the gospel so wrong!!? Or perhaps its me, somehow led off the straight and narrow, somehow lost focus, perhaps it me that has got it so wrong, perhaps it is me wasting time, perhaps it is me that missed something in the gospel?
"Either we are defined by mission, or we reduce the scope of the gospel and the mandate of the church."

Guder, D.L (ed) (1998) Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America

"our understanding of mission will only be as wide
as our understanding of salvation..."


Bill said...

Yes its possible that we could be wrong
I mean liberal means wrong to many,
Social Action means liberal to most,
But I guess I just mutter whose your neighboor but they probaly won't understand (McLaren).
Perhaps I'm wrong but Salvation is more then "when I get to heaven".
Perhaps I could be wrong but I'd rather be wrong and generous then right and not.

Gordon said...

thanks bill - where is the McLaren quote from?

Sister said...

good quote. I'm reading 'The Hidden Lives of Congregations' and its fascinating. ( Alban Institute, Karen McClintock.)

Kathryn said...

Every now and then I read or hear something along those lines, and am plunged into despair and inadequacy. In 12 years of assorted types of ministry, I don't think I've ever known anyone "saved" as I'd imagine your colleague would interpret it....
But I have seen people begin to realise that God might have time for them...people moving from being passive receivers of ministry to equal partners (just had lunch with one, who came to my old church to be married and somehow never left...and is now steering that tiny congregation through an interregnum, leading worship and caring and loving so much)... people beginning to live more fully. When I'm not having a "lower than worms" day, I tend to believe that there's some value in this, even with nobody ever overtly claiming salvation.Who knows?

Bill said...

The quote is from Generous Orthodoxy. Its one of those things that sticks in your head. I just can't find the page. Anyway, pick up and read, pick up and read.

He has many points but I think his point that I resonate with the most is Who is your neighboor?

Rob said...


I'm speechless at the comment. Yes - I'm a YFC evangelist so of course I believe and know people need to come to Christ. I also have come to see, though, that God is a God of seasons. I have run projects where for years young people have just grown throughb being ccepted, loved and given responsibility.

Jesus himself dealt with pysical and emotional needs, he doesn't seem to demand, or even expect, them to follow him as a response - he leaves that to their decision.