Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Mission From God

We hear a lot about a congregation having a mission statement these days.  If we only had a perfect mission statement our congregation will be saved as new members come flooding in to solve our financial problems and our falling membership.  More deeply, we long that our apparent disparate lives will find common cause and quit fussing with one another.

In the past the process I have employed is "needs based missioning."  We gather members together in cottage meetings, small groups, and workshops so they can discuss the needs of themselves, each other, and the greater and even global community.  At the same time we take an inventory of our gifts.  What we essentially have done is follow Frederick Buechner's sage reasoning, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." The difficulty lies though in bringing people together who, although they have the same needs, prioritize them differently.  What often results then is a watered down mission statement that offends no one as it attempts to include everyone's needs and gladness.

I do believe that needs based conversations, behaviors, and relationships are key to the good life. So I'm not suggesting that we give up on sharing with one another our deepest longings, woundings, and gladness.  Instead, I'm wondering if we in our congregations can come to a place where we share a mission based on the wisdom and experience we have as a people of faith.  We know what we and others need, and we know what makes us glad.  The challenge comes in the process of determining needs and gifts.  When in our lives, and even in most congregations, do we slow down enough so that we can focus, go deep, and listen to life arising through us so that we may best serve life?

The mission then that might be widely shared with other congregations is process oriented. How can we live deeply so that others can live well? In short, the mission is a way of life.

Here is an example.

Listen, open, serve
Listen to our deepest selves
Open to life's gifts
Serve needs greater than our own

We seek to know when needs are met, and not met. We then mourn, celebrate, and act according to how life seeks the greatest possible fulfillment in our congregations.

If we can do this, we will, as in the words of the great John Belushi in the movie, Blues Brothers, "be on a mission from God."

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