“What does it mean – to be the people of God (the Church) – living out the story of God (the gospel) – in the places God has placed you (the culture)?”
Glad Tidings Church is on a journey of becoming a missional congregation.
What does that mean?
First it means that everything begins with God. Becoming a missional congregation is about a church that is in the process of rediscovering its true mission. It all begins with God, particular the character of God. Who is God? God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Trinitarian theology is crucial to what it means to be a missional congregation. That God is Triune - three Person one essence means God is individuality and relationship (community) – the perfect balance of unity and diversity.
God’s plan for creation was to share His complete love and perfect life with a creation capable of reciprocating that life and love. That reality existed for time until sin entered the world, but God was not left without recourse. His plan was to counter sin and the fall in Jesus Christ, namely in and through Christ. So now through the Holy Spirit this participation in the divine nature was still possible (2 Pet. 1:4).
With that said we come now to the mission of God (Missio Dei). God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4; 26:4 The all peoples, nations (ethne) of the world will be blessed. This was Israel’s mission via Abraham and by extension the church’s via Jesus. The mission of God then implies at least three elements. First, redemption and re-creation (Rom. 8:18f). Second, it implies that the initiative is God’s. That is to say, God is actively involved and at work in his creation (John 5:17). Third, the church is invited to join God in his work. In other words, we are invited to participate through the Holy Spirit in what God is doing in, through and Jesus Christ in the world. The Mission of God informs both the church and the world that God loves the world and is at work in it.
This also means that God is a missionary God first in that he sent himself into his creation in the form of his Son, Jesus Christ, (Phil. 2:7-8). This is called the incarnation, God becoming human flesh (John 1:14). Part of the mission of the Incarnation – God taking on human nature – was to reveal who God is and what he is like and to show humanity who they are and what it means to be fully human, Jesus did both. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ than becomes the model for the
church of how to live in the world. We too are sent as missionaries locally and globally.
Further it means answering the question of why does the church exists? The church exists for mission and “the mission is not ours; the mission is God’s … the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows and mission that we get involved in … it is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world but that God has a church for his mission. In other words, Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission . A question we are trying to answer at GTC is: “What does it mean – to be the people of God (the Church) – living out the story of God (the gospel) – in the places God has placed you (the culture)?”
We do that is the following ways:
First it means that loving and serving the city incarnationally rather that just being an attractional model of church. Jesus told us to go into the world and what we say is, come to us. That is called an attractional model of church. Our goal is to become incarnational as well. God was the first missionary sending himself into the world in, through and as Jesus Christ. One of the things that incarnation means is doing what Jesus did. We too are sent into the world to be Christ in and for the world. "One of the misfortunes in the long history of the church is that we have mistakenly separated love of God from love of neighbor.” So, if we follow Jesus’ example, love for God gets translated into love of neighbors. In other words, becoming incarnational means becoming a church not for ourselves. It also, means being fully aware that we are in a given place to be the present of Christ in that particular location. For us this its is Sudbury.
Second, it means that “Salt and light” are the metaphors for the gospel as opposed to propositional proclamation. In other words, we don’t just tell proclaim the message we demonstrate it as well. Rather than just telling people about God’s love in Jesus we are learning to show God’s love in practical and meaningful ways.
Third it means seeing ourselves as being “strangers and immigrants” is the identifier embraced rather than triumphalism or entitlement. Triumphalism is the idea that the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, especially a religion or political theory, is superior to all others. By seeing ourselves as strangers in the world, we understand that this is in fact what we are. 1 Peter 1:17 makes that perfectly clear. Identifying ourselves as such helps us to welcome strangers in that we have an affinity with them, and the Scriptures are clear about that (Heb. 13:2) Welcoming strangers means that we have to be open to those who are different from us. By doing this we are engaging in the ancient practice of showing hospitality. We are reminded that we too are strangers and when we receive the stranger they are blessed and at the same time we too blessed but when we do not we are judged. To add to that we are learning what is summed up in the word ‘shalom.’ In the post resurrection event in John 20 Jesus enters the room which is locked and filled with people in terror and fear. Jesus enters and stands before them, shows them his hand and feet and says, ‘shalom,’ ‘peace.’ When Jesus says ‘shalom’ what he is saying is that all that was promised by God in Scriptures, the promise of the Kingdom, is right here and now among us. That’s what shalom means, God is present! This is what we must remember, that this is our Father’s world and regardless of how troubled and chaotic it might become He still loves His world. He proved this on a grander scale by sending Jesus. But now he desires to show it locally by sending us, the congregation of GTC to the city of Sudbury. “The shalom of God is among you in the incarnate Jesus by the presence of the Holy Spirit. God is present! And all that God promised is present here and now.”
Fourth it means that our current geographical placing is intentioned by God and is the place to begin discovery of mission focus because God has called us into the world beginning at home and then to the rest of the world.
Jesus calls his people to live in the tension of being in the world, but not of the world. Someone as referred to this as our ‘ambidextrous calling.’ On the one hand we are obligated to remain faithful to God while on the other we must minister in an ever-changing world. One of the great strengths of Pentecostals is our ability to embrace the elements of popular culture, such as music and marketing etc., and adapt it into church life (this is also one of our greatest weaknesses). The challenge for us as a church is summed up in the words of John Stott. “Presenting Jesus Christ to the world in a way that is simultaneously authentic and relevant.”
Our goal is to learn how we can present Jesus Christ to the world in a way that is simultaneously authentic and relevant and live in the tension of being both relevant and faithful.
 Christopher Wright, The Mission of God.
 Walter Brueggemann, Justice Conference.
 John Stott. Between Two Worlds.