So, Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ is, well, a church. It has existed for more than 50 years. In those 50 plus years it has excelled at meeting each generation’s challenges head on. The Urban Abbey is our way of facing the current generation’s challenges.
One of the spokes of emphasis in the Urban Abbey is our Outward Mission. Seeking an outward mission is the simple recognition that our calling actually exists outside of our walls. God exists and moves and acts in the whole world all of the time, not just the few hours at church when we have meetings or worship services. If we really want to know God, then we need to get to know the people that God spends the most time with: real people in the real world (which is why the fundamental principle of hospitality is that we greet every stranger as though they are Christ).
Finding that outward mission is a daunting challenge: what is the big thing that calls us? What is one direction that can unite us a faith community? We would love to find a project that we can send a hundred people out to accomplish. But we want to do more than just doing good. We have stated that one of the foundations of this mission we seek is to find people that we can look in the eye. Another way I’ve put it is that we are looking for people that we can fall in love with. And finding one place that can accommodate our whole congregation is almost impossible to imagine. Nonetheless, it should be one direction that we can all put our energy and our hearts into.
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ heart-driven mission is to proclaim that the Kin-dom of God is at hand. To accomplish this, he gathers a group of followers around him. He invites them to join him in this mission, and joining him he sends them out to attempt it on their own. But he doesn’t send them out in groups of twelve. He sends them out by twos. And instead of equipping them with the latest technology and a full wallet of resources, he sends them out empty-handed and barely clothed. Even so, they accomplish astounding things. This is even more astounding when you realize that in the verses just prior to sending them out Jesus himself was unable to do much of anything.
So before we paint ourselves into the corner of being unable to find the perfect Outward Mission, Jesus’ example beckons us to consider a couple of things. Jesus wasn’t concerned that his disciples had enough resources or numbers. He just sent them. They all went out on the same mission, but not all together. Jesus sent them out to continue the mission that was the passion of his own heart. As we seek to find relevant ways of following Christ in the 21st Century, our mission will likely also be following in the passion of our own hearts, united as we seek to continue Christ’s. The question is not what do we want to accomplish as much as it is who do we want to love?