Friday, June 23, 2006

Cultivating Mission

This past week I uttered a phrase that I never would have imagined uttering. Standing beside our newly paved parking lot, a smooth sea of steaming blackness, I thought to myself, “What a beautiful parking lot!” Others joined my joy and said the same. As un-theological as I am generally about parking lots this one is something to give thanks for, and we can all thank the efforts of Kerry Roselle, Bill Rohmann, and the rest of the Property and Maintenance Committee for making it possible.

While a group of us were discussing the layout of the lines with one of the contractors, we spoke of the placement of new “visitor” spots. The contractor seemed puzzled. “Why do you need visitor spots?” A good question, really, and one that I am sure many of you are asking.

The simple answer has to do with cultivating a sense of mission. There is (hopefully) a clear message sent, not only to outsiders but also to ourselves, that a vital aspect of the church’s mission in our world has to do with invitation and welcome. A church which reserves parking spaces for its leaders may be motivated by a well-intentioned sense of respect, but it may also send the message that the most important people in the church are its pastors. On the other hand, prime parking spots dedicated to visitors sends the message that the most important people in our midst are our guests. That’s thinking in terms of mission.

So the next time you are tempted to irritation over those great parking spaces which may, on any given Sunday, be vacant, let that be a reminder of our mission, to invite our world to follow Jesus. Invite a friend or two to church, and let them know there is a special place waiting for them!

That ethic of invitation will also be emphasized in July by our next Invite-a-Friend event, an outdoor service at 10 AM on July 2nd, followed by an ice cream social, on the Unneberg Lawn. We encourage you, in the spirit of mission and invitation, to invite someone you know to worship on that day. Your invitation might seem like such a small thing—like a mustard seed, perhaps—but it is part of living out our wider mission, of inviting our world to follow Jesus. For here, in this grace-filled community of Jesus, there is peace, shade and rest.