I have a lot to say about mission life! So, I’m going to write several posts about this over the next few weeks.
Basically, what I want to say about mission life are these things: 1. It’s busy, 2. it’s hard, 3. it’s good for the soul, 4. everyone should try it sometime.
What is mission life anyway? Mission life is small and the amount of responsibilities taken on by those who are there is large. Mission churches typically have 25 families or less. Our church has about 15 families. In a mission, you are trying to achieve everything a full parish does, trying to have the complete life of the church. But, you have less families working at it. So, as the adage goes, “It’s all hands on deck.” This makes church life BUSY! On any typical Sunday, I’m greeting people at the door, making sure there are bowls for coffee hour, plugging in the coffee after the creed, adjusting the thermometer because we’re all sweating and possibly singing in the choir. A teenager chants, serves behind the altar and helps on the building committee. Little kids pass out bulletins and make the lemonade for coffee hour. There’s no staff, employees or janitor. So, we are all cleaning, cooking, and serving.
By its very nature, mission life is hard. There aren’t already established programs. There may not be people in your age group or station in life. The church probably doesn’t have a cry room. The priest may visit monthly or live out of town. You know everyone really, really well. Probably too well. It’s too easy to say something that is really stupid. You have to show up without makeup sometimes. Kids get too comfortable with the surroundings and don’t always act appropriately. If you don’t show up, perhaps there will be no choir or no coffee.
But, and this refers to # 3 above, it’s good for you. Mission work is work that really matters. We are bringing the ancient faith to a place where there was none before. We are making an impact here for Christ. People are coming to the faith. Those of us working in the mission are being saved by grace. Our salvation is literally being worked out here in the midst of this endeavor. Why is this? Because we are struggling here. We are struggling with ourselves and with each other. When we continue to show up here every week and assume these roles, we are growing! When our kids have to take on roles they wouldn’t really choose, they are growing as men and women of God. When we learn to repent for saying stupid things for the 5th time, we are learning to remain silent.
If God gives you the chance, you should participate in getting a church off the ground. Why? Because you have to squeeze your sponge and let the others drink! How would the church grow if not for that? At some point, you have to figure you aren’t going to be here forever and you might as well give back. Mission life isn’t easy, but it’s good. Squeezing our sponges, giving back what we’ve been given, is the Mission life.