By Sara-May Cardy
Somehow the summer months are gone and September is here! How did that happen?
This summer I was able to visit two of our church’s international strategic partners to support and encourage the work that they are doing. I was able to spend time in Mexico and Romania with our partners and their local teams and it was so encouraging to see what God is doing in each of those locations. God is on the move around the world!
While I believe there is still a need for international missions and that short-term trips can be a key part of a person’s discipleship journey, for most people, that will only be a small part of their story. How do we continue to live out the things that we learned about God once we get back home?
That question is one of the many reasons that I believe we need to keep pushing into the conversation on what it looks like to be on mission in our own communities. It is so easy in the world of the church to forget that mission is happening all around us right now and that we all have a role to play in it. In his book The Mission of God’s People, Christopher J. H. Wright says it this way:
…mission is something either that specially commissioned Christians manage to do full-time, if they can get enough “support” to do so, or something that other Christians (the vast majority) do in odd moments of time they have to spare from the necessity of having to work for a living. Maybe they can fit “a mission trip” into a vacation or go on a “church mission” over the weekend. But what about the rest of life? What about the rest of the “world” – the world of work, the public arena, the world of business, education, politics, medicine, sports, and the like? (p.27-28)
Summer tends to be a time in most churches where short term mission experiences happen and then “mission” gets put off to the side until the next time a missionary returns home to give a report or another team is sent out. What would it look like if, as we head into our fall ministry seasons, we don’t stop focusing on mission, we just slightly change the direction of that focus?
As ministries start back up in churches across the country, teachers and students are going back to school. Men and women are going back to work after summer vacations and parents are reconnecting with other parents as their children return to after school activities. These are the places where a lot of the long-term and most effective ministry (and mission) is going to happen.
What would it look like for our churches to call these groups of people forward, and commission them, as we do with mission teams, to go into their schools, their workplaces, and their communities to bring the gospel to the places where they work and play? If you are a church leader, I would ask that you ask yourself the question, how can we empower the people in our churches to feel equipped to share their faith this autumn season as they settle back into the routine of work and/or study?
This fall, the challenge to be on mission in our communities is one we have put out to our church. We have commissioned our church to go out into their communities and workplaces to be lights of hope and love to those around us—recognizing that not only do we all have a role to play in God’s BIG mission but that it is something we do together.
As much as I’ll miss some of the warmth and travel of the summer months, I am so excited to see what God has planned as we enter into the fall season of ministry!