Why Write Down All the Numbers?
A couple days ago I went to a workshop for entrepreneurs, covering the basic legal and financial issues related to starting up a business. My dad had his own business, and sometimes we could help. I remember filling out massive spreadsheets, filling in detailed information from invoices. Amount of labor goes in one column, amount of parts goes in another, how much was paid goes in another. I didn’t pay much attention to why I had to write down all these details, but I remember that I thought it was odd to keep track of all these numbers separately when they were all on the invoices (this was back in the days of carbon paper invoices). Now I’m learning the “why” of keeping track of expenses and income as I start my own venture.
My work now focuses on the “why” of short-term mission. Why do people get involved in going on short-term mission trips? Why do they choose the places they serve? Why do they go at all?
Methodists have a particular way of describing God’s grace. “God’s grace goes before us (prevenience), God’s grace comes among us uniquely in the person of Jesus Christ (justification), and God’s grace abides with us restoring our lives to an unrelenting love for God and neighbor (sanctification).” These three ways of describing God’s grace – prevenient grace, justifying grace and sanctifying grace – help us to think about how God is at work in our lives, forming us into disciples so that we can faithfully live out how we are called to be in the world.
And God’s grace goes beyond just working on us as individuals: “The triune God is grace who in Christ and through the Holy Spirit prepares, saves, and makes a new people.” When a person is made new in Christ, they are brought into the family of God – God’s people in the world. Our ability to work for good in the world comes from God’s sanctifying grace: “Missional vision is not created by the church, rather it is given to the church by God’s saving activity in and on behalf of the world.” What this means is that when we go out on a mission project, whether that is volunteering at our local food bank or traveling to another country on a medical team, the mission is given to the whole church by God because of God’s grace. God loves the world. God loves the people in the world. God gives the church grace so that the church can reach out in compassion to others, and be living witnesses to God’s grace. That is our why.
How is your grace-formed church living out its call to be in mission?
Quotes from “Grace Upon Grace: The Mission Statement of The United Methodist Church”, Copyright 1990 by Graded Press