This Monday is another Board meeting for LINC. The most common point of discussion at our meetings is "Is that our mission?" This is sometimes the most difficult question to answer for a church, organization, etc. We have a very well defined mission, however, we operate on such a broad spectrum that it is difficult to precisely define whether a particular program or activity falls within the mission. As a Christian organization, our ultimate mission is that of Christ "to seek and save the lost." Our strategy is to attempt to transform communities by multiplying missional churches and leaders who work for the peace and prosperity of their own communities. The grey areas include all the ministries that that strategy entails.
Our Mission is Not:
1. Continuous Free Handouts
Following the basic pattern for our community development work, Evangelism - Relief - Development, we help a lot of people monthly through our churches (thousands.) We hope to change people's minds about how much God and his people care about them in their desperate situation. In our haste to help people, we sometimes create dependency, and even though we try to eradicate this from our ministry, it continually creeps in. Our mission is not to do for someone what they themselves can do. Our mission is not to take away someone's sense of personal responsibility and entrepreneurial spirit. We do, however, help someone (or some community) get past the point of need and back to self-sufficiency. It's a fine line between helping and hurting. Most of the time, the only way we can attract people to come for training is to offer some free incentive. Part of our mission then is help move people from their point of need to a point of transcendence in Christ, through whom all their needs are met.
2. Doing good for the sake of doing good
We as a Christian mission organization and as a community development organization are caught in a vicious trap sometimes. We represent God and His Kingdom (2 Cor 5:20), and we want to represent Christ well to our community. There are so many stories from our leaders who have helped someone in a crisis in their point of need, and that person has been able to overcome the situation, many times with newfound faith in Christ. Our church struggles with compassion many times because so many of us haven't really known poverty. When we followers of Jesus realize that we are Christ's ambassadors, it puts an extra burden on us. We must resist the temptation to do good, however, just because it looks good. I would venture to say that the majority of our "good" that is done is really for us, not for others. Our good work in community should be done out of compassion, not self-interest. Compassion leads us to go beyond giving a handout and actually seeking a relationship with those in need. A relationship is time-consuming and difficult whereas a handout is transactional. A relationship is not always glamorous, whereas a handout can make a good photo op for the church. Many times, a relationship that we begin with those in our communities begins with providing something that they need. Our mission goes way beyond that.
More ramblings to come about our mission.