Article 2 of 9 on the Diocesan Mission
Article 3 is Diocesan Mission Statement 2
Each Sunday we pray the mission prayer of our diocese.
Our Gracious God,
we pray that you will help us to proclaim our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,
that everyone around us will hear his call to repent, trust, and serve him in love,
and be established in the fellowship of his disciples while we await his return.
May we continue to pray,
to depend upon your Holy Spirit, and to glorify you. Amen.
Over the next few weeks, I plan to spell out something of this mission.
Historically it started in the time of Archbishop Goodhew, as the Diocesan Executive Board struggled to work out our Diocesan aims and goals. In this context it was suggested that to reach everybody with the gospel of Jesus there would have to be steps along the way. One of these key steps was having 10% instead of 3% of the community actively Christian. At 3% we are visible but making no impact, whereas at 10% a whole new dynamic would enter our relationship with the society. So, the question was posed as to how we could raise the number of Christians to equal 10% of the population.
The work of God in our midst cannot be programmed like a computer or even a business plan. God is sovereign and his work of regeneration is beyond our control or direction. We needed to turn to the theology of mission to work out what we were going to do and how.
Over time, and with a change in Archbishop, the Diocesan Executive Board became the Mission Task Force. They arrived at a theological statement and concept for the mission. This recognised the work of God and the importance of the quality of what we were doing not just the numbers of adherents. It also addressed issues of whether we are talking of Christians or of Anglicans, and what level of involvement we meant.
The Vision Statement recommended to Standing Committee, and through that committee to Synod, was
“To glorify God by proclaiming our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ in prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, so that everyone will hear his call to repent, trust and serve Christ in love, and be established in the fellowship of his disciples while they await his return.”
Notice that the goal is to glorify God. We must never undertake even such a noble enterprise as evangelism, without aiming to do it to the glory of God. This immediately qualifies what we can and cannot do in the mission. There are many activities that may increase church attendance, but if they do not glorify God, they are not acceptable activities of the mission.
The activity we are concerned with, in particular, in the mission is to glorify God by proclaiming our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the God honouring way to glorify God. It is as the name of Jesus is proclaimed that the greatness of God is automatically made known. For Jesus mission came from his Father and Jesus’ kingdom is to be handed over to his Father. So every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
But this activity of proclaiming Christ is the spiritual warfare that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6. So we cannot enter into it except in prayerful dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Nobody is capable or competent for of this task. It is critical that we seek and rely upon God’s assistance. That is why we include the mission prayer in our weekly meetings.
Next week we will look at the second half of the vision statement to see the purpose and result of this work of glorifying God by proclaiming our Saviour.