This thought has been baking in my head since Sunday. Over the weekend, I received a support letter from a good friend. I firmly stand behind what he and his family are doing. The one thing that struck an off chord with me was the use of the phrase, “on mission.” It’s not that this is a bad phrase. It is one that is used in many church/Christian groups to describe a mindset and life style that is intentional about what God wants to do in cities, neighborhoods, and personal lives. “On mission” is an identifying phrase, a rally cry, a way of being church.
I’m all for what I hear people talking about when they kick around “on mission.” I’m not against it at all; I just think there is a better phrase, a better vocabulary, a better way to describe and imagine working with God. I want to replace “on mission” with “in mission.”
On mission implies something we are doing. On mission implies something we are sent to carry out. On mission charges us with a responsibility. All of this might be good, but it also places us outside of those we are “on mission” towards. On mission paints us a picture of being sent to those in need. While that is a great thought, it’s not the reality of life. We are not the holy body of servants sent to work at what God is accomplishing. We are the broken who are being made whole. Our story is part of Gods mission: making all things right and well again.
That is why “In mission” makes more sense to me. Our redemption is part of God’s mission. Our stories are wrapped up in what he is doing. We are not sent from a perch of “good enough” to help others achieve a level of good so that they can finally get with the program and do mission. We are all busted and broken. We are all in need of restoration and reconciliation. We are all in need of salvation. Inside or outside the church walls and community, we are all part of the focus of God’s mission. So when we begin to believe, we find ourselves in the middle of the mission of God. We get to do good and show people that God is at work in us, them, and the whole of creation.
This might seem like a pointless change or splitting hairs. Maybe it is… but I think this shift can to help us all dream better about what it means to be involved in what God is already doing.