Emphasis on missions tomorrow in worship

September 25, 2010

Tomorrow we conclude our month-long church-wide emphasis on missions. I’ll be preaching a missions-related sermon in Vinebranch entitled “Doing and Being.” The text is Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 (which is more like feeding 20,000, when you consider the women and children) in Matthew 14:13-23. As we think about how Jesus fed the hungry multitude in that scripture, Jesus will also feed and nourish us through Holy Communion, which we will celebrate tomorrow.

Here’s a missions-related article I wrote for September’s Church Matters.

Columnist George Will famously complains that football combines the two worst elements of American society: “violence punctuated by committee meetings.” I hadn’t thought of the act of huddling in between plays as “committee meetings,” but I suppose they are. In fact, the vast majority of time in a football game—in between the opening kickoff and the final seconds ticking off the game clock—is spent not actually playing football.

Think about it: The teams huddle between plays to strategize and determine their next play. The officiating crew takes time to place the ball in the right place, mark off penalty yardage, explain rules violations, and review replays. Coaches call timeouts. Referees call timeouts. There are timeouts between quarters. There is a long timeout between halves.

An alien from outer space sent down to earth to study American football could be forgiven for thinking that all of this time spent between plays was the point of the game! No wonder many football-haters find all this “waiting around” boring. But those of us who love the game know that even this waiting around is an essential part of the game. But the point is still what happens between the snap of the ball and the referee’s whistle.

And it’s not so different from the church and its mission.

Churches are engaged in many activities, including—yes—a large number of committee meetings. But the point of all of these activities, ultimately, is to prepare its members to to take part in the church’s mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Since all of us Christians are in the process of becoming disciples, this disciple-making is something that happens to us—through worship, Bible study, and other means of grace. And it’s something that the Holy Spirit accomplishes through us, as we engage in activities that bear witness to the love of God in Christ.

This is what the church is all about. What we usually call “missions,” therefore, is not one church program among others. In a way, it is the program.

In September, we’re focusing on our “main point” in a number of ways that you can read about in Church Matters and elsewhere. A part of this focus includes a two-week missions-related curriculum for small groups in the church, including all Sunday school classes.

We hope that everyone in the church will feel equipped and inspired to use the gifts God has given us to take part in God’s mission to transform this world with the good news of God’s saving work through Jesus Christ.

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