The short answer to the above question is…NO.
The longer answer is that we have set categories and line items that are removed from a missional implication. Therefore, it is hard to see the heating bill as “missional” or even the pastor’s salary as “missional.” I wonder, as budgeting season approaches, what it might look like to connect the dots and have folks see how the church budget is intensely missional in its focus.
One of the things I’m working with is trying to reframe our categories and line items to accurately reflect how they are connected to the church’s mission.
It was Paul Begala, a former Clinton presidential advisor, who once said,
And a church budget, beyond being a “moral” document, is one that expresses the values and mission of the church. If we value mission, then that should be reflected in the budget.
While I wouldn’t classify Richard Beck as a “missional theologian” I’ve been reading his stuff for a few years and find that a lot of what he writes informs the way I act in the world and also reaffirms a lot of the missional thought I’ve taken in. Yesterday he quoted the following from Thomas Merton and I find that they are words to live by as we try to live missionally in the world:
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.
–Thomas Merton, in a letter to Dorothy Day
There you have it.
The rub with this, as you can tell, is the pressure to inquire whether or not the recipients of our love are “worthy.” I find this carries over into our charity as well… giving to those we think have “earned” our gift.
(Via Kathy Escobar)
Look, I’m a big believer in engaging the neighborhood and trying to get our churches to engage the neighborhood. But, the question we usually run up against is “HOW?”
While it’s decidedly simple, 3DM Europe offers some suggestions of how to begin:
Consider the needs that arise in the neighbourhood or people group your Missional Community serves. Look for places of grace, influence and invitation and encourage your group to keep asking the question ‘where could I be a blessing?’.
Pray about it. Pray together before you go out and when you come back before you disperse. It’s good to remind ourselves that we are carriers of God’s Presence.
We found that one of the most effective ways of beginning to engage with and serve a community is to litter-pick around the neighbourhood. This almost inevitably results in conversations. Someone is sure to ask what you are doing and why you are doing it.
Get involved with existing community activities and serve at these events. You could offer to help with the least popular jobs!!