Skip to content

Simply Symantics…


This is my second blog post attempt for 04JUL – the first one I wrote on Sunday afternoon, sitting along Harrison Lake watching Sand Hill Cranes glide over the water.  That post was a lead in to what the direction of the topics I am going to be posting on.  This one, not so much.  I sat tonight, trying to calm my nerves (PTSD and fireworks are a bad combination), trying to calm the dogs (dogs and fireworks are a bad combination), and trying to calm my approaching anxiety attack. (PTSD, dogs, and fireworks were the unholy Trinity.)

In attempting to distract myself I began to peruse various denomination web pages.  I read through some information, looked through some pages of various Synods, Diocese, Presbyteries, and Districts – that’s right folks, none of the Alphabet Soup of Denominations is exempt.  What I found was somewhat disturbing and I am hoping that perhaps we can share some discussion about what I have noticed to be a very negative trend among judicatory bodies.

The first trend is the equation of MISSION with Money to the respective judicatory bodies. What I have first believed to be something peculiar to my particular denomination in light of economic downturn and anger over decisions surrounding human sexuality is actually much more broad based.  Many of the denomination or judicatory sites had MISSION and MONEY on at least a parallel course arriving at the same destination.

I find this equation to be especially troubling in light of my understanding of Missio Dei or God’s Mission.  Jurgen Moltmann states in his book The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution to Messianic Ecclesiology, “”It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church.”   I believe that the Missio Dei can be summarized in the Apostolic movement following the coming of the Holy Spirit in the 2nd Chapter of Acts.

In 1991 James Bosch wrote in his book Transforming Mission that there has been a subtle change in the understanding of mission in the 20th century to be more about God’s Mission.  It is my contention that in the early days of the 21st century that Mission has once again been hijacked to equate to dollars passed up the ladder, instead of a focus on local mission.  This seems a difficult thing for me to digest in a community, like many communities in our country, where approximately 45% of the people do not self identify with a congregation.

I admit in the past few years I have become a cynic.  Somewhere in there the carefree Dennis the Menace disappeared and the curmudgeon Mr. Wilson has invaded my spirit – so I ask you.  Is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church acting in ways that align itself with Missio Dei?  How about your local judicatory? Your local parish? You?


David Brobston – CCD

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 4July2011 16:43

    I have spent the early part of my ministry trying to facilitate a culture shift in the idea of mission as the church’s participation in what God is up to in the world. I am finding a subtle shift beginning. In some ways I am not sure it is an either/or issue, but rather a both/and. Dollars funneled up the judicatory ladder enable congregations to support mission projects that might otherwise be beyond their interest. (Sometimes if it doesn’t directly affect us, we leave it to ‘someone else’ to take care of.) I beleive the key is to reclaim the understanding of mission as the church’s participation in the missio Dei and be faithful about how we do so, which MAY but does not necessarily HAVE TO include a financial support of the mission work that is supported on the larger judicatory levels. That is a ‘get to’ not a ‘got to.’

    The congregation in shich I serve is finding ways to be engaged both locally, globally, and with some level of financial support of our judicatory. I am okay with this.

    p.s. – I believe that “Transforming Mission” was authored by South African theologian David Bosch

    KMS @CCD

    • 4July2011 21:09

      Thank you for the correction to my author. Oops

      I would agree that monies up the judicatory ladder allows for missions to be supported beyond the horizon of the local parish. However, when terms like “Mission Support” is the key phrase for all giving – it’s my humble opinion that the term MISSION gets watered down and makes it more difficult to talk about Missio Dei in the local congregation.

      Much in the way that Evangelism has been hijacked by “evenagelicals” we risk the term Mission being hijacked by judicatories.


  2. 5July2011 00:22

    It seems to me, also,that it is very difficult to bridge the gap between judicatory and local congregation. It’s great to hear about “mission” going on in the synod but unless people are actively participating in that mission then it is too far removed from their experience. “Mission” is also something that has taken me a long time to foster in the congregation I serve (for almost 9 years). It has to have some “meat” on the proverbial bones otherwise it is such a nebulous concept that it goes unnoticed and fails to pique the slightest interest. In the past couple of years I have to a deeper understanding of how the gospel (mission) is carried out most effectively at the grassroots level. Focus on the local congregation should be top priority rather than sending money up and up into the hierarchy. It seems that the ELCA is beginning to realize this and has made some mention of it recently. Only time will tell if that becomes a reality.


  3. 5July2011 18:14

    I agree with the concern over the ‘watering down’ of the term “mission” by the use of the term “Mission Support” (i.e. – financially supporting the judicatory) as a blanket description of all giving.

    So much is dependent on context. The congregation in which I serve had a history of NO support beyond the local level and very little engagement with the community. It was mostly about those of us ‘inside the doors.’ So in my case, there needed to be two spheres of broadening our perspective – both in terms of local and global mission. I view part of my role as keeping the congregation faithful to their hands-on, grass roots movements in the local communities, an active and vital interest in a global participation, and a support of the ministry of the judicatories.

    Sometimes the semantics need parsing. I just think that this is one of those instances. I have no issue with making the “mission support” a grass roots movement. I do see issues with pulling financial support to judicatories in protest, without then directly supporting at least one of the ministries which the judicatory does. In other words, send money directly to the seminary for scholoarships, or the campus ministry of one of the colleges in the state, etc.

    ( Here my RC background kicks in. Every year we had a diocesan campaign and it was our responsibility to help support the ministry of the diocese – as individuals. We understood that church was more than just our parish. But that never was a substitiute for the local mission that we engaged in and through our parish.)

    KMS @ CCD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: