Our Vision4Life study group on 24 February 2011 focussed on the subject of Mission. Minister Stephen Thornton introduced the topic by explaining that Mission is God’s ministry, in which we all share. This led to the question: What is God’s mission? (If we don’t know, how can we share in it?)
We were referred to Ephesians 1, verses 3-14, which encapsulates the writer’s understanding of God’s plan. Asked to select a verse which could be said to summarise the whole passage, we chose Verse 10:
‘A plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.’
The whole of the New Testament is about spreading this Good News, which theologian David Bosch has defined as:
‘The participation of Christians in the liberating mission of Jesus, wagering on a future that verifiable experience seems to belie…… It is the good news of God’s love, incarnated in the witness of a community for the sake of the world.’
(David Bosch: Transforming Mission)
God’s aim is to unite all creation in unity, peace and love. We should therefore be wary of containing God’s purpose within our own limits by inventing restrictions and exclusions to God’s love and purpose.
All of creation is included in God’s plan, as the Victorian hymn, ‘There’s a wideness in God’s mercy’ makes clear:
‘There is grace enough for thousands
of new worlds as great as this;
there is room for fresh creations
in the Lord’s unfathomed bliss.’
FW Faber, Rejoice and Sing, No 353
Moreover, knowing God’s plan gives our own lives purpose and meaning:
‘We exist for all humanity, and to show what it means to live for others’
Finally, we turned to the subject of Mission within the church. The five Marks of Mission have been defined as:
- Telling of God’s liberating love,
- Transforming the world by God’s love,
- Treasuring the earth.
Ten statements of the URC mission purpose were then distributed. We were each asked to select two statements where we felt our church could make a positive contribution, and to note the resources and support we would need from Synond.
The meeting closed with a time of prayer.