The following is the second of three meditations given by Bishop Morales during the Clergy Retreat in Wisconsin. The first one “Rooted” was in the June newsletter and the last one “Compassionate” will be in next months newsletter.
Dear brothers and sisters, PAX!
The Missional Diocese is a missional group of congregations taking seriously the Great Commission: “go and make disciples” (Mt 28:16-20).
“Missional” is a helpful term used to describe what happens when you and I replace “come to us” invitations with a “go to them” life: a life where “the way of Jesus” informs and radically transforms our existence into one wholly focused on sacrificially living for Him and others, and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture. It speaks of the very nature of the Jesus follower.
The missional Diocese is a collection of missional believers called “disciples,” acting in concert together in fulfillment of the mission of God.
The missional Diocese is one where people are exploring and rediscovering what it means to be Jesus-sent people by their identity and vocation, no matter what it is they do to make their living.
The missional Diocese is a group of faith communities willing and ready to be Christ’s people in their own situation and place.
The missional Diocese knows that they must be a cross-cultural missionary people and adopt a missional stance in relation to their community.
The missional Diocese will be engaged with the culture (“in the world”) without being absorbed by the culture (not “of the world”). They will become intentionally indigenous.
The missional Diocese understands that God is already present in the culture where it finds itself. God is already moving there just as God was prior to your own faith in Christ. Therefore, the missional Diocese doesn’t view its purpose as bringing God into the culture or taking individuals out of the culture to a sacred space.
The missional Diocese is about more than just being contextual or relevant; it is also about the nature of the church and how it relates to God.
The missional diocese is all about being conformed to the image of God.
The missional Diocese will seek to plant all types of missional communities.
The missional Diocese is evangelistic and faithfully proclaims the Gospel through word and deed.Words alone are not sufficient; how the Gospel is embodied in our community and service is as important as what we say.
The missional Diocese understands the power of the Gospel and does not lose confidence in it.
The missional Diocese recognizes that it does not hold a place of honor in its host community and that its missional imperative compels it to move out of itself into that host community as salt and light.
The missional Diocese will align all their activities around the Mission of God.
The missional Diocese seeks to put the good of their neighbor over their own.
The missional Diocese will give integrity, morality and good character and conduct to their reasoned verbal witness.
The missional Diocese practices hospitality by welcoming the stranger into the midst of the community.
The missional Diocese will always be in a dynamic tension between missional individuals and community. We cannot sustain only being mission-shaped corporately.
The missional Diocese will see themselves as representatives of Jesus and will do nothing to dishonor His Name.
The missional Diocese will be totally reliant on God in all it does. It will move beyond superficial faith to a life of supernatural living.
The missional Diocese will be desperately dependent on prayer.
The missional Diocese will be gathered for the purpose of worship, encouragement, supernatural teaching, training, and to seek God’s presence and realign with God’s missionary purpose.
The missional Diocese is orthodox in its view of the Gospel and Scripture, but culturally relevant in its methods and practice so that it can engage the world view of the hearers.
The missional Diocese will feed deeply on Scriptures through the daily reading and Liturgy of the Hours.
The missional Diocese will be a community where members are involved in learning the Way of Jesus. Spiritual development is an expectation.
The missional Diocese will help people discover and develop their spiritual gifts and will rely on people who are gifted for ministry instead of talented people.
The missional Diocese is a healing community where people carry others’ burdens and gently help to restore them.
The missional Diocese will require that its leaders be mission-hearted not only mission-minded.
The missional Diocese is the result of a church culture that passionately works at disciple-making.
The missional Diocese Part Two
What do we want our missional Diocese to look like?
It is: not simply how many people come to our church services, but how many people our church serves, especially beyond the church walls;
not simply how many people attend our ministry, but how many people we have equipped for ministry;
not simply how many people minister inside the church, but how many minister outside the Church;
not simply helping people become more themselves, but helping people bring more wholeness to their world;
not simply how many ministries we start, but how many ministries we help;
not simply how many unbelievers we bring into the community of faith, but how many believers we help live out the life of Jesus and ministry, so they become more than believers: disciples;
not simply counting the resources, money, endowments, funds, saving accounts, checking accounts, etc. that God gives us to steward, but counting how many good stewards are we developing for the sake of the kingdom of God and the world;
not simply how are we connecting with our culture, but how we are engaging our culture so that if we didn’t exist the community around us would experience grief because of the tangible loss;
not simply how much peace we bring to individuals but how much peace we bring to our world;
not simply how effective we are with our church mission, but how faithful we are to our God and His kingdom;
not simply how unified our Diocese is, but how unified the local congregations of our Diocese in our neighborhoods and cities and towns are;
not simply thinking that I am the priest of a local congregation, but knowing that the Diocese of Quincy appoints priests as Vicars of a specific geographical community or town;
not simply how many people we bring into the kingdom, but how much of the kingdom we bring to the world around us.
We are not called to be an attractional church, with a “come to church” strategy. We should become “the church with me,” being relational and living out our faith in Christ.
We are not called to be a consumer kind of diocese, the “I go to church” people. We should be “I am the church,” a body of people sent on mission, who gather in community for worship, community encouragement and teaching from the Word and are sent to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel while making disciples. I believe this is the church Jesus is building—a missional church. I believe this is the church the Diocese of Quincy is becoming. I call on all clergy and laypersons in our diocese to join me as we become a truly missional diocese.
In Christ Jesus,
Bp. J. A. Morales, OSB, DD