“Disrupting the tendency to focus inwardly” (Doug Powe, Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership), is key to a congregation being truly missional. Powe says:
“The truth is, we do need more missional congregations. These congregations have to be more than a catchphrase. They have to disrupt tendencies toward being inwardly focused and give others a glimpse of heaven. When we truly live out what it means to be a missional congregation, we make a difference in the lives of others and follow Jesus’ call to be disciples.”
To love others, to love our neighbours as ourselves is the clarion call to the church. In light of Charlottesville, countless asylum seekers, starving children, racism, misogamy, nuclear tensions, alt-right organization’s that spew hate, and continual saber rattling among nations nothing could be more urgent.
In a small, but significant way, the ministries of Deer Park seek to live love in our neighbourhood and together with the Malawi Water Project (https://malawiwaterproject.com/ ) and the various engagements of the United Church of Canada in the world. Our “glimpse of heaven” means enough for all. Clean water. Access to medicine and health care. Proper nutrition. Sharing the produce of the community garden. Connecting others to God, Spirit, and Christ. It means relationships that honor children and youth by helping them to develop skills that demonstrate what it means to love the other – being nonjudgmental, being respectful and inclusive, giving back in ways that build and sustain community, and honoring the sacredness of life.
Living love is demanding. Living love is costly on many levels. And it is often risky. We live on a shoestring budget with a projected deficit. We could use more volunteers or as I prefer to say, more disciples. However, there is a trust that our needs will be met and that all will be well. The only “inward focus” that I commend is that each one look into his or her heart and discover again the love. Look and see again that “glimpse of heaven” and ask, “What’s my role? What is God calling me to do? What makes me come alive? How do I connect, reflect and serve?” Mission comes from within and propels one into the world. By definition, it’s about love. Mission is an instance of sending. Sending love. Living love. Giving love.