I come from a fairly ordinary background, one where I was raised and nurtured within a Christian context. I go under the label of 'Cradle Christian'. This means that I have, frankly, been robbed of that moment where I gave my life to Jesus. It was though, kinda, given before I was born (cf Ps 139). Anyhoo ...
When people stand up and start to talk energetically about 'mission', I notice several things.
1. That person seems always to be a man in his fifties with considerable alopecia, round rimmed spectacles, a broad smiley face with very straight white teeth and a strange taste in clerical shirts.
2. I start to follow the Reggie Perrin line of imagining a scene unfold before me - but this scene is one where imps chase butterflies with nets, like dementers on a spring morning. The sound of birdsong is overplayed by a less attractive soundtrack that seems to me to be a litany of "Gotcha Gotcha".
3. Lots of verbs, matched by equal numbers of gesticular actions.
4. Me glazing over, having passed through a state of mild temper.
I have a heart for mission. I love Christ, and I love the church. I love the community of Christ, and I love the community of the church. I want people to choose Christ as the way the truth and the life. That is where my heart is. But I have always become annoyed in lectures about mission, and I am trying to understand why.
The main issue for me, I think, is contained in point 3 above. Mission in the classical evangelical sense seems to be an almost all consuming 'Do' thing. It requires plans, actions, models, pasta, chasing, testimony giving, and a whole array of other pieces of 'doing' (except when it involves sacraments, but that is for another post). Mission seems to be a very busy thing to do, very tiring - if these paradigms of mission are regarded as correct.
Priests are called to 'Be'. As someone said to me today, priests are mission in the person (or words that effect), or put another way - by just 'being', they represent a viable model of mission in themselves. I do not disregard the other mission models, of course. I of all people have much to learn from them, but when they come across to me, a professional Christian, as ecclesial stalking - then I wonder if tweaks are needed. Think of a candle. A candle, by its very nature, is a creature of 'being'. It can 'do' very little except 'be' itself. Yet it casts it light on all who see it, its warmth and hope to. A candle is not designed or built to set other candles alight around it.
Of course, a candle cannot meet Christ's mandate to go in the world, but I wonder if the mission movements today overlook passivity and stillness, inertia and 'being' to their peril. When I read about the many millions of people who have attended this course or that and then notice that church attendance figures are largely static, I wonder where the missing link in the chain is. I don't have an answer, but I just wonder if it is not to be found in 'being' (and letting God have a part to play, not just us .... ?)