Ministry in the Interim
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart;Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart.In my heart, in my heart,Lord I want to be a Christian in my heart.We are an "between" people, between the first and second advents of Christ,between the "at once and yet to be Kingdom of God," and between our first and finalhomes. This section will focus on bringing together the various strands of the previousfive sections into a complete and unified whole, a focused vision of ministry on the journey. We begin by quoting (again) from the
's description of what theChurch can be:The Christian Church is the community of all true believers under the Lordship of Christ. . . .It is the redemptive fellowship in which the Word of God is preachedby [those] divinely called, and the sacraments are duly administered according toChrist's own appointment. Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit the Churchexists for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers, and theredemption of the World (emphasis added).That last phrase encompasses a great many things, and I believe serves as asufficient definition of the Church's mission. The church, to be the church, must attemptto fulfill the last three statements. The church must be a worshipping community wherethe people can come together and worship the God of their salvation. The church mustprovide means for the edification of the believer as well. This can be done throughworship, Bible studies, encounter groups, fellowship activities and groups, training andeducation, and the administration of the sacraments. The church must also, however,work toward the redemption of the world. That is to say, the Church is responsible for ministry to its members and those attending it, as well as evangelism and missionaloutreach to those outside the community of faith.Neill Hamilton has referred to the church as being "the inn where one goes toreceive healing strength for growth in maturing." The key here being that in maturing
one ultimately is able to leave the church and to go out into the world and do ministry:Whether gathered with a body group on a Sunday morning in a sanctuary or ona weekday evening, the sojourner in maturing only pauses there. Churchgatherings are not the final destination of the journey of faith. The journey of faith is ultimately a journey in mission. The church is a training facility or stagingarea to launch members into mission, a M*A*S*H unit to return them to servicewhen they are wounded in the line of duty, a rest area in which they can catchthe breath of the Spirit when fatigue in mission sets in. There remains a sabbath
Neill Hamilton, Maturing in the Christian Faith, (Philadelphia: The Geneva Press, 1984), p. 113.