We're on a mission.

Mission(al), Catholic

Definitions and Meaning

Christian Spirituality define Mission and missional

To do mission, start by going!

What Is Mission?

A mission is the objective or purpose of an organized effort, the 'why' of it. Christian mission is simply to bear Christ and His good news to the world. "Bearing Christ" is more action than talk, more attitude than stance, being a servant rather than a master, blessing instead of cursing, knowing and telling God's story rather than making one up. It's sometimes said that 'everything is mission', but that's just the mystifiers doing their thing to every word. Christian mission is done for and with Christ and by the power of the Spirit He sent to us, or it is not mission. It is firstly God's operation for all, done through the church, and whomever else is needed. And it's all a noisy gong without love. While few do work that is generally called 'missionary', all Christians are sent on a mission - from God. Related words are calling, goal, purpose, operation, vocation, undertaking, quest, and lifework. The key Bible passage is John 20:21-23, the sending of His followers after His resurrection. In it, they receive from Jesus the Holy Spirit, and Jesus' power to forgive sins. The scary part is that Christ's followers are sent as the Father sent Jesus. That means it will succeed, even if those followers have to die to do it. The followers of today are among those blessed in v. 29 for believing even though we didn't actually see. The purpose of the Church is not something we control or possess or define, but rather as the living-out of the purposes of God (in too-churchy Latin, missio Dei).

Missional Churching

Missional describes a family of approaches that make mission central to the church, and it is interpreted as being 'incarnational' (or be the flesh-and-blood worker/representative) of the gospel of Christ within a specific community. To be missional, the question isn't 'how can we suck people in, to help fund and populate our programs?' Instead, it means 'how can we best love those living here around us?' We do this by listening, sharing, serving, and sometimes just being there - or more rarely, giving someone private space by not being there. Other words often heard along with 'missional' include 'organic' (= not by program, but mostly as life happens moment by moment) and 'holistic' (in this context, = person and community, evangelism and social action, feelings and intellect, devotion and questioning, drawing from across the faith traditions and creating new ways of living the faith, etc.). Missional approaches are meant to be more like life and leave other people free to breathe within them. With fewer of the usual institutional rules and structures, the church becomes free to find where the Spirit may already be working in the community around them.


What is 'catholic'?

catholic: of the whole; universal (Greek kath holos ). With a small 'c', 'catholic' refers to the whole Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ and ways of living it out, among Christ's followers of all times, places, races, sexes, social classes and situations of life. When using 'small-c catholic', it is easy to miss that it refers to all that is within the Gospel truth and fitting for the *Kingdom of God* (a very broad thing, meaning the redeemed or completed universe). If it isn't a part of that redeemed world, it is not part of the 'kath holos', no matter how much it is actually present among Christians or church bodies. The term is also used in the Creeds ('We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church'), meaning that believers in Christ, wherever, whenever, and whoever they are, belong to one community united in Christ, as he is found in the teachings of the Apostles. As one would expect of a divine community populated by humans, the different parts of that community see the implications of 'catholic' differently.

With a capital 'C', 'Catholic' refers to the churches which acknowledge the authority of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) - the Roman Catholic Church - and its traditions, structures, and operations. Roman Catholics are the largest Christian tradition, and the most widespread. Roman Catholicism is so wide in scope that it has developed its own characteristic Catholic culture.