Sunday, April 27, our guest speaker will be Brian Bauman, Mission Minister of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.
This first Sunday after Easter is an appropriate time for us to think about mission, because the gospel of Matthew’s account of Jesus’s resurrection closes with Jesus’s well-known “mission charge”: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything I have commanded you” (28:19-20).
There is a direct link between seeing and worshipping the risen Jesus, and taking the good news of his resurrection to the wider world. Mission is not optional for the church. It is an intrinsic part of being Jesus’s people.
And for some churches, inviting others to consider Jesus and welcoming them into the church is a matter of survival.
Writing recently in the Washington Post, Samuel T. Lloyd III, Dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. , says: “Christianity in Europe and North America is going through its biggest period of institutional redefinition in 500 years, and no one knows where it is headed. Christianity faces an increasingly pluralistic world, one more saturated by the day with information, choices and entertainment. The world seems too busy for church life. For nearly 1600 years, churches provided the spiritual infrastructure for neighborhoods and larger communities, but now the stones are cracking and the pews are emptying. For those of us who believe in this weather-worn container we call ‘mainline’ Christianity, this is a time of reflection and experimentation.”
Lloyd believes that the appeal of megachurches “with parking lots fit for pro football games” has peaked and is declining. Instead, he sees “churches growing because they are providing clear, engaging sermons and classes teaching the basics of the faith. I’m seeing urban churches taking on new life as they welcome new immigrant communities in their neighborhoods.”
In short, “it’s a yeasty time. Christianity is being reinvented. My guess is that it will get smaller for awhile. Many churches built in the religious boom years of the last century will close. There will be tensions between experimenters and traditionalists. Denominational loyalty will continue to fade. But fresh ways of blending the old and the new will continue to emerge. And yet again an ancient faith will find new forms.”
Brian will help us think about how we at The First Mennonite Church can contribute to God’s mission of restoring creation by being “yeast” where we live and worship.