We did a fun exercise in class tonight:
Empowered by the Holy Spirit
and in communion with Christians everywhere,
this church strives to create a welcoming place
that makes visible the reconciling presence of God
in our neighborhood, our city, and our world
by proclaiming the word of God
and faithfully living the gospel in the service of humankind
after the example of the Servant Lord, Jesus Christ.
The professor declared that the five of us in the room were going to create a mission statement for a new church.
Each of us were on the committee to craft this mission statement, and each of us was responsible for representing the concerns of one of Dulles’ five models: Institution, Communion, Sacrament, Herald, and Servant.
The above statement is (more or less*) what we came up with, after some brisk discussion, brainstorming, and negotiation over phrasing and emphasis.
What do you think? Would you be attracted to a church with this mission statement? Does it leave out anything you think is important? Does it include anything you disagree with? Or anything you do agree with but that hadn’t thought about?
Theologically, do you see the traces of each of the five models?
Does it feel particularly Catholic, Protestant, or specifically denominational to you? Could your church, if you attend one, sign on to a mission statement like this, or has it got one or more show-stopping omissions or inclusions?
I love this statement. I would totally want to belong to a church whose self-understanding was expressed in these words.
*(more or less) — the original said “through proclaiming” instead of “by proclaiming”, but I changed it in transcription because I thought “by” flowed better, and it was “by” in an earlier draft. And there was a late suggested addition to the text that didn’t achieve consensus: “create a welcoming place for broken humanity”. Some of us thought that the word “broken” is itself anti-welcoming; others thought that it included an important element of atonement and expressed the reason we humans need church at all.
Great statement. An informed reading can definitely uncover the liturgical under-girding, but for a visitor / seeker it is still accessible and welcoming. As far as the language about brokenness–I personally don’t think that is a major turn-off. In fact, it is refreshing to hear a church / community admit to and welcome broken people. Too often, the church is full of people who are all OK–and there is no sense of inclusion for those of us who just aren’t. But, as it stands–it is a good summary using welcoming and inclusive language. I’d be willing to give it a visit! 🙂
Thanks for your comment! Interesting about “broken”. I was one of those who felt “a welcoming place for broken humanity” was very offputting — seeing as I’m a rejoicing kind of Christian.
And by saying “those of us who just aren’t [OK]” I am not saying that the OK people are actually OK–just that they look good, at least at church. 🙂