This past weekend I led a workshop in San Jose on “The Missional Church in Changing Times”. You may already have heard something about the concept of a missional church. Although the term has been around for more than ten years and the concept is as old as the early church, in these days of declining churches we are hearing it more and more. The missional model is being promoted by our own National Ministries as a way for churches to become less ingrown and more vital while serving God in their communities. The idea applies to women’s groups, as well.
At it’s core the missional church or group is simply one where the fellowship is taking the Great Commission seriously right in their own backyard. To become missional is to find the needs in your local community and using the gifts of your congregation in concert with other local resources, to try to meet those needs in Jesus’ name.
In order to share the vision of becoming a missional congregation it is helpful to find a cause that strikes a common chord with the membership.
I would like to suggest that the recent issue of The Christian Citizen, a publication of National Ministries of the American Baptist Churches of the USA, is a perfect place to look for inspiration when choosing your group’s or congregation’s first missional project.
This issue, Volume 3 2009, is all about supporting those who serve in our military.
In The Needs of Returning Service Men and Women the Rev. Judy Gronemeyer Allbee in speaking about the difficulty of returning service members and their families and the levels of healing necessary writes, “The first is healing of the physical body. Then there is healing of psychological, emotional, and spiritual wounds, which is where church folks come in. Whether or not there are physical wounds, service men and women and their families need a place to talk. We need to be strong and compassionate enough to provide that place by listening – really listening – without any judgment or condemnation. Trust does not come easily after living in a war zone, so creating a safe place can take time and commitment.”
Reading the rest of the articles in this issue I was inspired by all the information on the ways we, as women’s groups or churches, could and should be addressing the needs of our service families. If your group is looking for a project to further God’s kingdom perhaps you might investigate what is being done in your community for your returning service men and women, and what remains to be done.
As retired Navy chaplain, Capt. Lester Westling, is quoted in the same magazine in the article Military Family Ministry Partnerships, “When one has returned to the safety of one’s homeland and family, the compassion and understanding of others…heals and helps one leave the war behind.”
Compelled by the love of Christ can we become missionaries to our military families?