And how do we apply all these ideas in our parishes today? Do we build our own mission parishes here at home or send money to foreign “missions”?
I do not want to go too far, as if to suggest that the Protestant drive toward missions that I grew up with is completely misplaced, because, otherwise, “how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” And truth be told, their zealousness toward missions shames us. However, I would say that using money to support people to go and live among another culture often gives us a false sense of self-accomplishment. We feel like we are “doing missions”, but we choose to ignore the negative effects of what is actually happening.
Your parish will choose how to use your money and how to engage in missions. However, there is one waning sign I would like to share, something that might be helpful in determining to whom or to what organization you should send your money.
Continue reading “Do We Need to Send Money for Missions?”
“If you are called to be in the monastery, you better not go [into missions], and if you are called to go, you better not be in the monastery.” How these words came from the mouth of an Orthodox Christian deeply involved in missions, I cannot understand.
In context, it was clear that this viewpoint came from someone who sees monasteries as merely a place to provide spiritual health to parishioners in the world, maybe something like a retreat center. Even if that was all monasteries were, then we should we not start monasteries wherever we are involved in mission so that the host people can also have the benefit of that spiritual guidance? But it is not a well thought out viewpoint; it is (as a best case scenario) an accidental misunderstanding of monasticism and the various vocations of the Christian faith, likely from a leftover Protestant, Romo-phobic viewpoint.
Continue reading “A Problematic Viewpoint of Monks in Missions”
The term “incarnational missions” is one of those catch phrases used so much it almost lacks any meaning when we hear it now. It seems that now, all it really means is ‘to go and live among a people’.
The idea of incarnational missions is based on the Incarnation of Christ, God taking on flesh, the uncreated entering into the created. St. Gregory of Nazianzus’s oft-quoted, “that which is not assumed is not healed”, not only helps us understand the impact of God’s Incarnation, but would naturally also extend to incarnational missions.
As for the Incarnation of Christ, he becomes fully man…every aspect of man. Therefore, every aspect of man is healed as it is united to God. And in missions, the extent to which we are truly incarnational will be the extent to which the world will be able to be healed by the gospel message.
Continue reading “What Is Incarnational Missions?”
Heading toward a fuller understanding of what it means to live incarnational lives, whether you stay in your local parish or are sent out to cross into another culture and incarnate Christ in that context, we should first investigate some key words from the gospels to build an appropriate understanding of what it means to “bear witness” to the gospel.
Witness, testimony. Maybe some of you have heard this before, but it is a good reminder: the word “witness” and “testimony” are the same word in the Scriptures. To bear witness, false witness, give a testimony, “his testimony is true”, and every other instance, are built on the same root word in Greek. And that is not all. The root on which they are built is the word martyr. So, intentionally transposing these words in English will help us feel some of the nuance that word holds in all of its various contexts:
Continue reading “What Is Living a Christian Witness?”
What do all these words mean? That will greatly help us understand the commission given to Christians to “go and make disciples…teaching them to observe”. And particularly, we need to look at the difference between missions and evangelism.
Missions. Think of the word missive, as in ‘to send out a missive’. It is ‘to send’, which would mean it carries the same meaning as “apostle”, ‘one sent out’. A disciple is a learner, but the Disciples became Apostles when they were sent out. So, missions is when someone is sent. A missionary is the person who was sent. “Mission parish” is a small problem, unless we think of it only as a parish established in a place that required the Church to stretch out and develop a parish in a new place; that could be seen as ‘sending’, I guess.
How is that different from “evangelism”?…
Continue reading “What Is the Difference between Missions and Evangelism?”