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. 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:

Missional approaches are meant to be more like life. It gives everyone room to breathe within their framework. 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. Sometimes the above catchwords get in the way, but they express something that is sorely needed in an era where distrust of hierarchy and institution are so deeply ingrained.


What Is Holism?

holism : involving the whole [ < Greek holos (whole) ] Adjective form: holistic. Rarely, spelled 'wholistic', for easy English-language understanding.

Holistic approaches envision something as a whole rather than examining its parts as if they were separate things. This is the way God treats us. Paul looked at the Church holistically, by likening it to a whole body in which the parts have to work together in order for it to function. In that sense the church is one whole life, or "one body". There are some activities, ways of thinking, and ways of living that do harm to the whole. For instance, pollution of one place is pollution of the whole earth, and it eventually starts spreading around. Some amount of tension and disbalance can be holistic; a tooth is 'disbalanced' in favor of calcium and hard materials, but that makes it able to do a task that is healthy for the whole body. We can appreciate difference as potentially healthy, but some forms of difference are not; for instance, cancerous cells will kill the whole, as will cells that have taken in certain viruses, and invader cells from the outside that have no commitment to the whole. You can't be holistic (or even wholesome) just by adding an herb to your diet or taking a 'natural' supplement. Holism is about not one or two things, but the whole thing including its relationship with other whole things. In history, God works mostly through little things whose effects add up holistically.

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.