Mission' is a pretty loaded term in Christian circles and conjures different images for different people. Churches have 'mission partners', people are 'sent out on mission'. What springs to mind for you when you hear the word 'mission'? Is it people hiking through the jungles of Bolivia to reach some distant tribe? Or setting up churches in unreached places? Is it university event weeks or church outreach events?
When you think about mission, do you ever think that it is something for you to engage in?
If you asked me that question a few years ago I probably would have said no. But then I found myself leaving my home and comfortable job in Scotland and being parachuted into the heart of an incredibly multicultural community in Birmingham. I began to see that mission was so much more than I had thought. Mission isn't just an activity you do; mission is the way you live — mission is worship.
In the Church the prevailing spiritual atmosphere is that 'mission' is for specific people that are 'called' and in the Western world, the spiritual atmosphere is one of hostility to the gospel. These things need to change.
During my time in Birmingham with the missional movement Operation Mobilisation (OM), I met a retired Caribbean lady. She is probably one of the least retired 'retired' people I have ever met. She lives in an area of Birmingham that is rife with tension and crime and is an unofficial leader in the community. The Lord had laid on her heart the beatitude 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God'. People come to her with their struggles and conflicts and younger people come looking for a mentor. In all these things she represented Christ. She had a heart for prayer and a desire to change the spiritual atmosphere. Each day she would look to the Lord and say, "Use me as you want today". Her life was an act of worship to the lord. Her life was a life of mission. Not a mission that involved leaving her community, but a mission that was amongst them; living out the love of Jesus where he had placed her, with the gifts He had given.
We also cannot underestimate the role of worship through music as a part of mission. Music is incredibly powerful. A song or artist can unite strangers, create a movement, or communicate a vision. Music brings us hope and joy — remember the people singing from the balconies in Italy at the start of the pandemic? Music is a gift from God and is of God. Psalm 22 v3 says,
'Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel'. God is present in our worship. As we worship, we invite the Holy Spirit to minister to the people we are with. Worship shapes the spiritual atmosphere. Public worship is a statement of who God is and our identity as his worshipers. David's Tent is a 72-hour non-stop worship event for people all over the globe, which took place later August 2021, and is a perfect example of this. An international community coming together in a public act of worship. This doesn't just impact them in their walk and strengthen their community, it bears witness to God. It is missional.
Music has the power to cut across cultures. The area of Birmingham I spent time in with OM was an almost exclusively Islamic area. But at Christmas time we went out together to sing carols. As we sang, we began to engage with local communities. Barriers began to be broken down and people started to ask questions.
So, mission is worship. It isn't just an activity you do, it's the way you live. Whether by music and the public worship that testifies to the Lord or the worship of steady obedience and prayer, living out the love of Christ each day.
But what does this have to do with you today? What does worship in mission mean in your context? In a culture where so many people seem hostile to the gospel, how do we change the spiritual atmosphere?
Firstly, be encouraged! You already are! This upcoming generation is one of the most globally minded generations the planet has ever seen. There is huge opportunity for young followers of Jesus to live out His love as they advocate for His world, the people who live in it and communicate how God cares for them. So, keep going! Keep demonstrating and speaking of God's love.
There are also huge opportunities to worship through social media. It is a community where you can use your skills and creativity to witness to God and to speak of him in your context – it is a platform that transcends cultural differences and gives you access to people around the globe.
You can use your skills and the context God has put you in to worship him in a missional lifestyle. As we step out to demonstrate the love of Jesus in every day life, it forces us to look up and look around to the community we are in, as we begin to worship God by living a life of mission alongside them.