Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thinking about Mission

Two questions about mission... any takers?
  1. What are the riskiest ventures you see being taken to incarnate the Gospel in a particular milieu, rather than attract people to "church programs"?

  2. Where and how are our people working as missionaries to the undereducated, working class, or poor? What are some contexts in which Anglican missioners are faithfully preaching the gospel and engaging the poor in the worship of God?
Regarding the first question, some of my readers will be familiar with the distinction increasingly made in discussions about Christian mission, between "attractional" and "incarnational" practices of mission. In models of the former persuasion, people set up an attractive program that strangers will find attractive. Normal practices of this might include a "contemporary" worship service designed for people who would otherwise "find church boring," billboard ads, or giveaways. An incarnational model entails befriending people and teaching the gospel from in inside rather than on the outside of a social group.

Regarding the second, Anglicanism in North America finds much of its natural affinity with more educated populations. That's not necessarily awesome.



Kyle said...

My friend Ben Rey, pastor of the Boston Anglican Mission (BAM), responded:

I read your note regarding mission and I thought I would send you a message regarding BAM. Some of the outreach we are looking to do/already doing might be good to mention. We are already doing work with a local women's shelter and partnering with the JPNDC, which is an organization that advocates for those suffering from housing issues in our neighborhood (we have 5 public housing units with a 5 mile radius of our meeting space).

We are hoping to be doing more in regards to housing and ending a lot of the segregation present in our neighborhood, thus hoping to combat gentrification.

This is risky because it doesn't guarantee us the big supports financially and it certainly begs the question of how political can the gospel be. In addition, we are seeking to wrestle with difficult questions of race in our own parish, which can be both painful and frustrating.


maggie said...

"Anglicanism in North America finds much of its natural affinity with more educated populations. that's not necessarily awesome."

I definitely agree with your point here, and have certainly struggled with that very thought since i've been at st. pat's. and it causes me to ask what you are asking here...what exactly is mission? Is is something we go and do? Or is it more about the kind of people we are to become? I think one of the problems with the popular understanding of what it means to "do" mission is that we end of doing something for someone else, and then we leave. when that happens, it is very easy to end up with an "us vs. them" mentality. and that's certainly not ok, either.

peregrinator said...

Completely on board with most of what you write. As I begin some studies at Fuller in these areas as they pertain to some American Anglicans I have as a working hypothesis that the three things that Anglicans have to focus on in my context are 1) move from attractional to incarnational; develop more flexible ecclesial structures that encourage mission that does not have the perpetuation of the institution as a significant (but often unrecognized) purpose; and getting clear on Jesus and the meaning of the Gospel.

I am wondering, however, why risk is an important predicate of mission? Risk averse mission is half-hearted and self interested. But does the reverse apply?