Struggling with mission

One of my new responsibilities at Highland Park Community Church is to prayerfully shape our identity as a people “on mission with God.” The church is not the church unless it’s a sent people… just as Jesus was sent and the Holy Spirit was sent– we also are sent. It is our privilege and our burden to be part of God’s reconciling work in the world, reconciling all things to Himself through Jesus. God, your Kingdom come, your will be done here!

As well as I can articulate these things, still I have been struggling through this. Our little congregation is still a fledging faith community in so many ways. In our thoughts and “church habits” we are still steeped in the old ways of being church, doing church. There is a strong temptation to become the social club– you know, the men’s club, women’s club, children’s clubs, teen club. Our resources are few, and we could so easily end up dumping them into the clubs, with little if anything left to spend on our community.

I have talked to a few people who seem to want to convince me that the clubs are good and actually can be a ministry to our community… but I have grown up in that world… and it’s just not so. I apologize if that sounds overly critical. Add to that the facts of church work, that 20% of the people do 80% of the work, and I cannot in good conscience spend time and resources on the things that only serve to make us ingrown. Is Bible study a waste? No. Are small groups bad? No, of course not. Is Christian education for our children without purpose? No, I believe in solid Christian education for my own kids. I want them to know the Bible stories, to know how to connect with God.

However… (you knew that was coming, right?)… I have a strong conviction that we spend so much on these things, in an effort to build community in our churches, that we neglect our actual physical community, our neighborhoods and neighbors. We become a social club, a christian clique. So the question I am struggling with now is this: how do we build community at HPCC, this infant church, while also being on mission with God in our community? No Christian bubble, but authentic relationships that are outward focused, pouring our limited resources into our neighbors– spending our money and time and energy and talents on those alienated from God’s Love, Justice and Mercy. Is it possible that we will stumble upon authentic community while we work together on mission with God? Will it happen unintentionally, as we labor, shoulder to shoulder?

God is among the poor and oppressed (see Matthew 25). Where are they in Highland Park and how can we bring Good News to them? How do we, at the same time, bond with one another on the journey and form honest, loving relationships? It’s a conundrum… but one I’m glad to be in the middle of… I’d hate to be trying to “undo” the social club right now.


beauty and pain

Great post. Amazing. Well-written. Gives voice to passions I have also felt.