I'm about two-thirds of the way through Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy. (By the way, I also really like his book, A New Kind of Christianity) This sweeping book suggests an alternative route forward through the polarization of left liberal christianity and right fundamental christianity. I look at it as the Rodney King, "can't we all just get along" text for contemporary american christianity.
Around the half way point, McLaren unveil's his struggle to find an appropriate mission or purpose statement for himself, and possibly for the christian faith. He writes:
"To be and make disciples of Jesus Christ in authentic community for the good of the world."
Now that’s a mission statement!
It begins with a personal 'to be' before it moves to 'to make' disciples of Jesus Christ. I see this as a significant step away from the in your face approach to making others disciples. It suggests we begin with ourselves. We are called first and foremeost to be disciples. Ghandhi's phrase "be the change you want to see in the world" comes to mind. Yet, we are also called to make disciples, and participate in that activity with integrity.
The statement is also christocentric, that's fancy pants talk for - "It's centered on Jesus." I like Jesus, and I'm glad to know that he likes me, and, I beleive likes everyone, and is interested in hangin' out with us. Doing laundry, teaching kids, mowing lawns, shoveling sand bags, feed the poor, clothing the homeless, working for peace, comforting the lonely, challenging the sophisticated, and so on.
Problem is, most people only see Jesus as a chuchy guy, meaning sunday morning dressed up groovin' to hymns and such. But, this mission statement says nothing about that, it talks about authentic community. Could that be church? Sure. But, it could also happen in a family room with people from a church, or maybe a mix of people from a church and others from a soccer team. The point is "authentic" community. That's a goal, that's an aspirational hope for what a church, or a family or a group of amigos could become. I don't know about you, but I think people are really really hungry for authentic community.
"For the good of the world" is a vital addition. In the book, McLaren points out that for years, he had not yet included this aspect. The mission statement ended with the authentic community, but he knew it needed something more. Hence, the movement outward - "for the good of the world." We are pushed, nudged, sometimes shoved into the world to be about the good and challenging stuff of reconciliation, hope building, peace making, forest healing, poverty alleviating, justice advocating, etc.
If I got permission to slap this statement on a T-shirt, would you buy one? Would you wear it? Engage in conversation about it? Start a hope building movement?
Just some random thoughts, while I procrastinate my Saturday night sermon preparations.