October 29, 2009

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations: Risk-taking Mission and Service

The fourth part in our series through Robert Schnase's book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations brings us to the topic of Risk-taking Mission and Service. Thoughts, questions, comments? Share away

Risk-taking Mission and Service

Schnase describes this as the thing that can initiate change in the life of a church by encouraging its members to look outside themselves by attempting to make a difference in the lives of others for the purposes of Christ, regardless of whether or not these individuals will ever be a part of the community of faith (83). It is this idea of service that connects us with others and with Christ. It is being willing to step outside our comfort zones and risk the possibility of uncertainty, discomfort, resistance, or sacrifice (87). Schnase also notes, "The life of service flows naturally and inescapably from the teachings of Jesus Christ, and no congregation or disciple can avoid the direct gift and demand of God's call to love and serve others" (87).

When it comes to living risk-taking mission for you and I on a daily basis I think it comes down to being willing to love those who are not easy to love. I would not be surprised if someone came to mind right now as you thought about how hard it is for you to deal with him or her. Maybe, for whatever reason, there is drama between you and someone else, what an opportunity to live risk-taking mission. Sometimes the opportunity for this kind of mission and service is extraordinary like giving up a week of vacation to rebuild houses after a disaster or traveling to a developing country to provide assistance in some way. Other times, well most of the time really, the opportunities for this kind of mission and service happen every single day. What are you risking to step out of your comfort zone to share the love of Christ with someone?

Jesus never said it would be easy following Him, risk-taking mission and service is one of the main reasons why. There are plenty of people out there, many we know, who are in desperate need of help. We receive a stern reminder from James that if our faith is not accompanied by action, it is worthless (James 2:14-17). I think Schnase says it well when he says, "Christ moves us closer to suffering, not farther away" (100). Its not necessarily that Christ is going to cause us to suffer, though I think suffering is a very real part of discipleship, but that as you and I are willing to be involved in risk-taking mission and service we find ourselves becoming more aware of the suffering around us and it draws us in as we attempt to share the hope that is in Christ.

Have you had a mission or service experience that has somehow changed you or made a deep impact on the way you view others or the world? Would you be willing to share?

Are you involved in a local mission or service that you are passionate about? What is it and why are you involved?