by Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)
As a church planter and pastor, I have found inspiration, challenge, and direction in the book of Acts, especially in Paul’s missionary trips and the Upper Room as the ‘headquarters’ for equipping and missions.
Thus, the words of Paul to the Romans confronted me in a greater way: “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14 NLT).
I find the calling and commissioning church business quite challenging and life giving. The Church, whether established or emergent, more than ever before, needs to work intentionally on building a close relationship with its community. We ought to continue prioritizing our missional approach. Perhaps a good slogan or driving force for the church could be “come and see, then go and tell.”
It has been said that God is at work in our communities. However, can we pinpoint exactly where and how he is at work? What is he up to in our neighborhoods? Formulating and wrestling with these kind of questions, around God and not the church, will allow us to see him and to join his mission. Such an approach will allow us to experience conversion and transformation in both our personal and communal lives.
We need to engage in formal and informal conversations with our neighbors to learn about the realities they are facing including their spiritual condition. Could you imagine the gathered Body of Christ worshiping twice a year in the nearest shopping plaza to their church building? Perhaps church life and corporate worship should be mobilized from a building setting to a more organic public witnessing practice. Please understand this, I am not dismissing corporate worship, after all our ecclesiology informs our mission and vice versa.
Every time that I am presented with an opportunity to engage in conversation with a ‘stranger,’ I have discovered that these individuals have dreams and they too are seeking opportunities to be productive and successful. However, some of them lack skills or higher education, even some of them were undocumented hindering such goals and dreams. In many instances and despite having the skills and education, structural systems will refrain such opportunities to be available to some of this people. Despite these misfortunes, some of them have been able to see God working in their lives.
If we want to be a church for the 21st century – relevant to its context and as agents of God’s shalom – then the church should learn to listen the sounds of change, pay close attention to the movement of the Spirit, and then plan and act accordingly. Mission, the Great Commission, is part of the DNA of the church and not just another program.