I certainly believe Concord is a place that is passionate about missions and outreach. I’ve witnessed how the congregation comes together to support others, raise money, and put the gospel into practice. I hope you enjoyed my sermon yesterday on the importance of being creative in how we do missions. It is my prayer Concord continues this rich legacy!
I do want to address one danger I’ve noticed in our broader culture. Perhaps you might label this as being “anti-mission minded.” Hopefully churches come together and are mindful of missions. This would be the exact opposite. I’ve seen anti-mission minded attitudes every once in a while, whether that be reading something on social media, a secondhand story from a friend, or hearing a public figure.
It might sound counterintuitive… After all, I think a basic reading of scripture affirms loving our neighbor! Yet you will notice that this is not always evident in the surrounding culture. We don’t always play nice or seek to advance the gospel through outreach efforts. We have a tendency to be selfish rather than selfless.
Whether with news stories, Facebook posts, or conversations, I’m sure you’ve noticed for yourself how easy many people can become closed off or jaded towards worldly need. When true mission opportunities arise, our culture doesn’t always respond with eagerness to serve. When issues such as refugee resettlement, homelessness, or addiction come up, it is so tragic many respond with callousness, animosity, and name-calling. When there is a disaster or humanitarian crisis, some will even say “not my problem” and outright ignore it. Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves isn’t common practice. The simple word for this predicament is sin. In being anti-mission minded, we separate ourselves from God.
I’ve shared the tragic story before about a colleague of mine who suggested his church host a community-wide Easter egg hunt one year. There were low-income apartments filled with struggling families just across the street from the church. In his mind, this proposed event would be a perfect opportunity to get to know neighbors, reach children, and establish relationships with many families in need. Sadly, the congregation was unified in opposing this event. They did not want nonmembers to enjoy the resources of the church. They instead opted to have a “private” egg hunt reserved for church members and their grandchildren.
There are lots of excuses we can try to make. Perhaps money is tight. Maybe we are uncomfortable with the people who need serving. Maybe we are too influenced by non-Christian voices.
To be anti-mission minded means one is also anti-gospel. There’s no other way around it. Jesus repeatedly spoke of lifting up the lowly and serving neighbors in need. To believe we should just tend to our own selves and ignore the brokenness of the world simply does not align with Christ.
I think Concord is in a healthy place in regards to missions. We understand them to go hand-in-hand with our faith in Jesus Christ. But we should never take our tradition for granted. There is always work to do, and we must never give into the temptation of being anti-mission minded!