God’s Mission

Duleep2Plenary into action

Charged with making sense of the morning’s presentations and moving us towards action, Dr Daleep Mukarji, the then Vice President of Conference, began by reminding us of the Methodist Church’s move towards ‘one Mission’ – a statement confirming that all mission belongs to God, and whatever our context or our method, we are playing a part in a larger, divine story.

Questions and discussion followed, bringing more challenge but also more opportunity. We asked what a structure of hope might look like, how we might learn from the process of uniting the church in India, and how we might separate the liberation of faith in Christ from the closed and restricted traditions of Western Christianity.

We were reminded of Karl Barthes’ understanding of mission – with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, and of the power of lobbying (churches have been involved in protecting the British overseas aid budget from the treasury’s cuts). Daleep directed us towards the ‘Faith in Foodbanks’ resource produced by the Joint Public Issues Team, and the Methodist Church’s involvement in credit unions (www.jointpublicissues.org.uk). Vinod insisted that ‘we cannot do this as a divided church’ and urged us to be more creative and more optimistic in our ecumenism.

There is much to do but, remembering it is God’s mission and not ours, we were charged to go out and live that mission of justice, partnership and hope.  For Daleep, mission is about three things:

Mission is about justice.

It is not about charity, and whilst some of the organisations working with vulnerable people do remarkable work, we must challenge the structures of injustice and advocate for better, fairer legislation and behaviour. Charity alone doesn’t change the world, but defeating injustice might.

Mission is about partnership.

Engaging with people around the world who are different, who are ‘other’, has to affect the way we see the world, and ourselves. The encounter, the dialogue, has to change us, if we are just willing to listen and learn and work alongside. In the West, it is time we got over the Golden Rule (that the people who have the gold make the rules) – that is more like exploitation than partnership.

Mission is about hope.

Yes, the world is damaged, yes, it is bad out there, yes, there is a lot to do…but the church must have faith that the world could be a little bit better. As Christians, our message is one of hope.

Daleep, adapting Ghandi, invited us to ‘be the change that God wants to see in the world’.

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