What if Our Mission Was “To Keep People from God?”
Mark Yaconelli is a writer, speaker, retreat leader, spiritual director, community activist, youth worker, storyteller, husband, and father. He is the co-founder and programme director for the Center for Engaged Compassion at Claremont School of Theology which seeks to heal broken people and communities through contemplation, creativity and compassion. He is spending 6 months as "Missioner in Residence" with the St Aspah Diocese in North Wales nad recently shared this account of his experience there.
Sitting with two groups of church leaders recently, I asked, “In practical, everyday language, what is the purpose of the Church?” Many responses were given, but the one that stuck was, “To bring God to people and people to God.” I then asked “If our mission was to do the opposite, in other words, if our mission was ‘To keep people from God,’ how would we accomplish this reverse mission?” In both groups, laughter erupted. “Done!” someone exclaimed, “We know exactly how to accomplish this mission!”
I asked the group to list the activities needed to meet this reverse mission. Here is a sampling:
There was much laughter, self-recognition, and humility as people listed the activities and attitudes that would keep people from the Church and from the faith. This laughter was a sign of health. The conversation then shifted to discussing the concerns and needs of the people in Northeast Wales. Here are the main items listed by the church leaders:
The vicars and lay-leaders who gathered decided that if we could focus on meeting these needs, the real needs of the community instead of the anxieties of the church institution, God would be felt and known.
You can read more of Mark's Blog at http://stasaph.churchinwales.org.uk/mark-yaconelli/an-american-in-wales-reflections-from-mark/