Welcome Friends! Years ago, I began holding intentional dialogues with individuals who make mission evident in their lives. I desired to learn the unique mission God had placed on their hearts that makes them different. I wanted to know what makes them say “yes” to a particular opportunity, while others said “no.” These dialogues soon evolved into mission interviews or mission conversations with over one hundred ordinary people representing different social classes, genders, races, denominations, faith backgrounds, sexual orientation, and ability. I asked each person the same seven questions to discover mission from seven different areas of their life.
In the mission conversations, the first question was to define mission. In one hundred mission conversations, I encountered one hundred mission definitions, each of which taught a new perspective of mission. My first mission conversation was with a dear friend and colleague, Rev. Ann Pettit. As wives, mothers, and pastors, Ann and I have similar responsibilities in the home and at work. Along with our similar responsibilities, we are passionate about serving a loving God both in the church and in the world.
Over the years, I have appreciated Ann's active presence in the community beyond the church walls, where she is called to serve as pastor. Ann said:
Mission is not a Christian owned word. In a general sense, mission is knowing what your purpose and focus is and moving toward that with your activity. Mission is more vocational. If I am volunteering my time, there is something missional about it, even if it is not with a church group. I feel a missional focus is asking the question: ‘What does God want me to be and do in this moment?’ Gratitude is my response when I am volunteering with a secular organization or when I volunteer with the church. God is at work in the world everywhere, and we join in that activity, and sometimes the people who join in that activity alongside us might not know that mission is what we are doing.
As defined by Ann, mission stretches faith to experience God both within and beyond our familiar places. Ann reminds us that within the areas we serve in the church or in the world, God’s presence is already there, creating, shaping, and making all things new. Whenever we serve in mission, we continue our Creator's good and gracious work in the world.
Review Pastor Ann's favorite places to serve in mission.
Living Waters for the World (LWW) trains volunteers to establish and lead water mission teams that partner with communities to implement and operate sustainable water purification systems and health education programs. Ann served on an international mission trip with Living Waters for the World.
Faith in Action is a coalition of faith communities and organizations in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County working together to enact change and justice in the Shenandoah Valley. Massanutten is a member organization of Faith in Action.
The mission of Massanutten Presbyterian Church is to nurture disciples of Jesus Christ who are sent to join boldly with the Spirit’s work in the world.
Pastor Ann joined the staff at Massanutten Presbyterian Church in 2006. Ann's genuine spirit, wise character, and faithful heart leads the church in creative ministry and mission in the world.
Spend time defining the word mission. Reflect in prayer on how mission leads you to love God and neighbor.
Ann’s mission definition:
Mission in general is knowing what your purpose and focus are then moving toward that with your activity. Mission in the context of church is being open and looking for how God wants to use me at this moment and being willing to participate in it.
Next week’s blog post, Mission at Work, will help you weave the your mission definition into your current job description and your daily practices at work.
Blessings, Rev. April H. Cranford