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.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Robert Martin
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 14:20:54

    I feel your struggle. Our congregation is not incredibly big, either, so our resources are limited. As a congregation, we have recognized the need to be more involved in the community around us. The problem is resource. The same people who agree with this are the same people that are in that 20% doing all the work so are the same people who end up getting burnt out. So, out of personal defense, so we don’t have to burn out, those of us doing the 20% say “We’re not getting anywhere” and fall back to the baseline…

    Is it the eternal struggle of a church leader to try and get the 100% of people doing 100% of the work? Probably.

    Reply

  2. Aunt Gloria
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 16:09:50

    Only 20% doing the work!! Oh, KrisAnne, I knew the amount was small in a congregation but THAT is a struggle for the leaders of all churches. So for the leaders of our churches my prayer will be to keep you uplifted that you may have words of encouragement for others.

    From my quote book; a good one for all you, me and all people:

    “The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.”

    Reply

  3. Ashley
    Sep 20, 2009 @ 08:09:48

    Krisanne!

    I really enjoyed reading your blog! I woke up this morning, crawled out of bed, and realized going to church was not happening for this grad-student for many reasons a student struggles to find time and energy to do things! Soo, I found some worship VIA other avenues and your blog was one of them 🙂 I really like this post and I often feel extremely frustrated with the church and the community we build within. To some degree, I have never seen or felt anything more beautiful than the community I have experienced at my home church; it is a place I KNOW I am loved, cared for, and deeply a part of, which is a rare thing to be sure of these days. Despite this amazing beauty I have been blessed to be a part of, I have always felt such deep sorrow for those who do not find themselves in this situation and, in some ways, an even greater sorrow for those stuck IN the bubble, never finding the outside. It has been my time and experience outside of this bubble that has given me so much appreciation for community. It has been through meeting other people, different people, bringing and offering new perspectives that has grown my faith and stretched me as a person to really think about my life and faith, having to make my own decisions and not feel trapped and defined by the rules and parameters of the bubble.

    Well these are just some incoherent ramblings of my Sunday morning. Thanks so much for your blog, it clearly resonated with me! I hope the fam is well and the kiddo’s are enjoying school once again!

    Reply

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