Commissioning Youth to Enter the Mission Field

Mission MondaysIn just a month or two, many youth programs will be embarking on mission experiences throughout The Episcopal Church.

For each Mission Team, an important element of preparation is commissioning from the wider community. Both for the missionaries and for the sending congregation, it is important to remember that this team is being sent to represent the community. Therefore, they need to be prayerfully and intentionally commissioned by the community to go forth in their name. [Read more…]

Discerning Your Mission Experience or Pilgrimage Site

Mission Mondays

You know you are called to a Mission Experience or Pilgrimage….but where?

Knowing where to serve can be one of the most daunting aspects of planning. Either the scope of the mission field can feel overwhelming or the finding the right location can seem impossible. [Read more…]

Me, Called to Mission?

Mission MondaysAs Christians we are called to join God’s mission. As the Christian Church, we are called to serve in mission in communion with all the saints.

But, discerning our particular personal and communal role in engaging God’s mission can feel overwhelming, unclear or even confusing.

So, how do we get started on such a monumental task?

Perhaps it is most helpful to begin with prayerful thought about WHO God is calling you to become through a mission opportunity:

A Companion: God is calling our church, as a whole, to be a companion with other churches and beyond.  Dioceses and congregations are living out their calling to become companions with dioceses and congregations in our country and around the world.  Individual missionaries are ministering as companions in the places where they are called to serve.  Literally, companions share bread together. Look at Matthew 14:13-21.

A Witness:  “You are witnesses of these things,” said Jesus to his disciples. Witness in a word means sharing the story of what God has done with us, in light of the story of what God has done in Christ Jesus. Such witnessing is the natural and inevitable fruit of a life in Christ, and it is the heart of evangelism as a mission imperative.  Look at John 4:1-42.

A Pilgrim:  Episcopal missionaries today see themselves as pilgrims, growing in their knowledge of God through the perspectives of the people to whom they are sent, learning as much as they share, receiving as much as they give.  Look at Hebrews 11:13-16.

A Servant: “I came not to be served but to serve,” said Jesus. Servanthood in mission means that we listen to the stated needs of our mission companions, look for signs of God’s work in them, and collaborate with them in discerning how God is guiding the implementation of mission vision. It means that missionaries and the church put aside prior images of our companions, preconceived analyses of their situations, and ready-made solutions to their problems.  Look at Philippians 2:1-11.

A Prophet: Episcopal mission pilgrims today often find their views of political, racial, and economic relationships in the world challenged and transformed.  Experiences of poverty, suffering, and violence alongside experiences of affluence, oppression, and security often radicalize missionaries, whether they are long-term missioners, visiting bishops, or short-term teams. These are prophesy to the sending church, prodding it to inquire more deeply into dynamics about which it may have become complacent or resigned.  Look at Isaiah 61:1-4.

An Ambassador: In addition to witness in word and deed as ambassadors of Christ, the missionary and missionary community are ambassadors of the sending church.  This calls for living out the highest ethical standards in personal honesty, respect for others, financial transparency, and faithfulness in personal and professional relationships.  Look at 1 Timothy: 4:6-16.

A Host: “Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet,” said Abraham to the three strangers who appeared at Mamre.  “Let it be to me according to your word,” said Mary to the angel Gabriel. In initiating mission, God is not forcible but invites a response of hospitality. Look at Luke 10:38-42 or John 11:1-12.

A Sacrament: As the body of Christ, the church is a sacrament of Christ, an outward and visible sign of Christ’s inward and spiritual grace.  As members of the body, all Christians participate in the communion of the saints and so are members of the sacramental revelation of God, embodied in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. A Christian on mission is a sacramental sign of God’s mission to reconcile all people with one another and God in Christ. Look at Luke 24:13-35.

As you are planning a mission experience for next year – or maybe as you are planning to join us in 3 Days of Urban Mission following the Episcopal Youth Event 2014 – WHO are you and your faith community being called to be as missionaries of Christ?

This blog post is another excerpt from the forthcoming Episcopal Youth in Mission Manual, which is being co-written by Cookie Cantwell (Diocese of East Carolina), Beth Crow (Diocese of North Carolina), and Wendy Johnson (Diocese of Minnesota). The Manual is still in production. However, in support of Mission Monday, portions are being made available for posting on the EpiscoYouth blog.

Planning a Mission Experience

Mission MondaysTo help leaders prepare for mission experiences, we are incorporating a Youth in Mission Planning Timeline into the forthcoming Episcopal Youth in Mission Manual.

Essentially, there are 3 key elements to every transformative mission experience:

  • planning
  • preparation
  • prayer

Planning
If possible, begin planning your trip 9-12 months ahead. Work with an adult leadership team and start making lists of details. Regularly comb through this list to ensure you aren’t forgetting anything. Create a budget and, if necessary, a fundraising plan designed to help you reach your goal before the experience dates.

Use the Youth in Mission Planning Timeline as a checklist, of sorts, to ensure you are on track.

Preparation
Make sure your youth, adult leaders, and families are prepared and open to this transformative opportunity. Hold regular meetings to talk through the mission experience, expectations, guidelines, and any details you have about where you are going and what you might be doing. This is critical both to setting expectations and building trust among participants and the community.

Research the community you are visiting. Find out what you can about living conditions, food, cultural norms, faith practices, and any other relevant demographics.

Prayer
Plan Bible studies for the traveling group and sponsor at least one retreat so that you are placing the Gospel at the center of the experience.

Commit to praying for the community you will be visiting. Ask all participants to hold the experience and the community in prayer. Be sure to incorporate prayer into any meetings or youth group activities. Also add the prayers to your faith community’s prayer list.

Before you leave, incorporate a commissioning event into the main service in your faith community, asking members to lift up participants in prayer.

Download the Youth in Mission Planning Timeline now to get your mission experience started off on the right footing. We will be releasing additional excerpts from the upcoming Episcopal Youth in Mission Manual in coming weeks that will add details and meaning to this Timeline.

Finally, I encourage you to contact me or Valerie Harris for advice on any mission experience you are planning. Either we can help you or we can connect you with someone who can.

Summer Mission Trips and Pilgrimages: Share Your Story

NJ Mission

I found this article in my web wanderings yesterday: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church participates in mission trip to Vermont (NJ News). Take a minute to look it over. It’s a great story about a congregation engaging with a nearby community in much-needed work.

It’s always great to see our faith communities get media coverage for the good work they are doing.

Did a story about your summer mission trip or pilgrimage appear in your local paper or on your website?

If it did, share the link below.