Wednesday, November 20

A church AND a mission

About two or three times a year I teach the Vocational Excellence class (.pdf) for the Covenant Orientation program. This is a class for newly credentialed ministers in the Evangelical Covenant Church. We cover areas such as ministerial ethics and some leadership practices that are unique to our denomination. And I always leave that class so encouraged because I can see first hand the caliber of the new leaders in the Covenant.

Without fail during the breaks or even during class discussions students will ask me to describe the ministry of MasterPiece Church. This isn't always easy to do since ministers have some pretty strong preconceived ideas about how churches operate and MasterPiece is pretty unconventional. So, anyway, it dawned on me last week, when asked about our congregation, that I should describe us as both a mission and a church. The life of our church is built around our mission to serve immigrants, the homeless, and at-risk children. It's not that we don't do other things but that the other things all seem to be done in the context of our mission themes. It's not that we think that other things are unimportant but that we choose to define our success in terms of mission engagement.

The experience of worship is best understood in the context of mission -- for the God we worship is at his core a missionary. The most effective way of making disciples is to engage people in mission and then help them understand what they are doing by laying down a biblical foundation.

When we invite people to either MasterPiece or Christ we are really inviting them to embrace a mission. You see, Jesus doesn't just invite people to experience his new life -- the forgiveness that was established through the cross and resurrection and which is received by faith in him -- but we are invited, as well, to join Jesus in his world transforming mission -- starting with the most broken and vulnerable -- those most open to him. Indeed, it could be that we can't really grok the cross, the resurrection, the forgiveness, and the new life until we follow Jesus into his mission.

So, I've begun to tell people that MasterPiece is both a church and a mission.

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