Embodying Mission in a Local Church

What is our mission? Why is it our mission? And how do we accomplish it?

When I was asked to wrestle with our Sabbath School theme for this quarter, I agreed with some fear and trepidation. I have a somewhat complex relationship with the idea and reality of “mission.” My family tree is full of good-hearted, well-intentioned missionaries that spent their lives in various parts of southern and central Africa, convinced, as the lesson describes, that “we should be aligning ourselves and our church with God’s priority—the saving of the lost.” And there were blessings that came from that conviction. I remember visiting my grandfather’s grave in Malawi a couple years ago. It was my first time traveling to the country where he had died working as a medical missionary, and I was moved to tears at the stories shared by those who remembered him, including those whose lives he had helped save.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/sabbath-school/2023/embodying-mission-local-church

Mission begins and ends on the local level, where those congregational members best understand both what is needed and what they are able to do. Mission neither begins nor ends on a higher level where an edict attempts to tell local members what to do. It is on that local level that our offerings should be centered. Yes, we do need administrators. However, in my opinion, we have unnecessary duplication. Some positions could be either trimmed or eliminated. I do not believe that every position in the General Conference should be duplicated in the NAD. As an example, I do not believe that we need Adventist Chaplaincy Ministry (ACM) positions in both the GC and in the NAD. I believe that other reductions could be made. The funds saved by the reduction of administrative positions could be well used on the local level where mission is accomplished. However, few people want to see their position cut. It sounds good when it applies to someone else.

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Thank you for this well-thought out essay. It really hits the spot about what we need to consider when we think of ‘mission’. And if ‘love’ is going to be the thing that opens hearts…that can only be done by each one of us, not the institutional church. It would be nice to have leadership along that vein at the top levels, but that seems unlikely at present.


“…is our mission primarily to proclaim a message? Or is there something more that we might be missing?”

Great question! Too often it seems the ‘SDA message’ has been passed down and readily accepted among members as if the GC President issued a direct proclamation from our Heavenly Father.
Ironically, as a 14 year student of the SDA Educational School System prior to the implementation of pre-school, and with avid parents who determined weekly to be marked present in attendance of both Sabbath School & Church, I can recall being taught not to rely on the expressed word of finite men.
One example, Rome’s false infallibility is no more unique than any other Protestant denomination who believe and act as if they have ’carte blanche’ authority from heaven.

First, we must never fail to compare how often our similarities parallel those of the Jewish religious order in Christ’s day. If you must ask how? ask for the Spirit of Christ to reveal it to your heart.

Secondly, no matter what our message may be, if our actions continue to speak louder than our words… perhaps we should consider a frank possibility we may more likely resemble the Laodicea church— rather than His Remnant.

Thirdly, as our Spiritual father Abraham became aquatinted with the voice of God the Father, so must we do likewise. No infinite man or woman can provide you with a ’ticket’ into the Holy City.
He alone knows the Way to the Eternal Kingdom of Love, Joy & Peace, therefore it is imperative to obtaining His Robe of Righteousness, that we both Know, and Emulate His character from within as He reigns supreme from within. ‘…and the whole earth was lightened with His Glory.’

“If (we) speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love” —we’re absolutely nothing!

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This sounds like as good of a definition of “mission” as I’ve heard in a long time. Even when I was a kid in Sabbath School, I remember seeing pictures of foreign missionaries dressed in their western clothes, living in westernized compounds, importing western foods, singing American/British hymns, and teaching local people to do the same. Neckties? really? It was nonsensical and harmful to try and “civilize” cultures this way, and then ask/require them to go out and do the same at other villages. Well, okay, maybe seeming westernized was a way to get ahead, but getting ahead in western ways leads to the same power struggles, greed, and hierarchies we have trouble with ourselves.


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