The Call to be a Missionary
by Bruce Yocum
What the Lord has been saying to us
There are five things we believe the Lord has
said to our communities over the years.
1) God has called us to build and foster Christian
community in an age of radical change in which the cultural supports for
living the Christian way of life are being destroyed.
2) God has called us to be a bulwark; ie. by
building community and making links between those communities, to provide
shelter, support and strength for one another and for others against the
trials and challenges of this age.
3) God has called us to be a missionary people;
ie. as communities to be a group of Christian men and women who serve in
Christian mission in an age of spiritual warfare.
4) God has called us to proclaim His word through
evangelism so that men and women can come to know Him as the Lord; and
to proclaim the truth of His word in an age when the truth of His word
is being undermined and attacked.
5) God has called us to foster the unity of His
people in our daily life and mission.
The age in which we live
Running throughout the Lord's word to us is a
strong conviction that our call is a specific response to the age in which
we live. There is something different about this age that is specifically
linked to the mission God has called us to.
We live in an age of massive social and cultural
change, comparable to the cataclysmic change which took place in Western
Europe during the fifth century. This time period witnessed the final decay
and collapse of the Roman Empire in the west as a result of the barbaric
invasions. The well established and largely Christianized Greco-Roman social
and cultural order crumbled away and was aggressively replaced by a very
different social order. This change was so cataclysmic and rapid that many
thoughtful Christians thought they were witnessing the end of the world.
In a similar way today, the Judeo-Christian social
and cultural order of Western civilization is crumbling in front of our
eyes and being aggressively replaced by something different. As in the
fifth century, we are seeing the culmination of a process of disintegration
and decay that began long ago. As in the fifth century, a social and cultural
order hospitable to Christianity is being replaced by one that is actively
antagonistic to it.
This is not to say that everything about the old
social order was good, or that everything about the new order is bad. Nor
is it true that things are so different that nothing of the old order is
contained in the new. However, it is clear that the new order is consciously
anti-Christian, which is why many refer to our society as "post-Christian".
The new order is not simply a rejection of Christianity.
It is also a rejection of many of the most fundamental norms of all prior
human civilizations (eg. the traditional family, heterosexuality, any differentiation
on the roles of men and women).
The link between our mission and our
I think there is a direct connection between the
kind of social and cultural dislocation that we are seeing and the emergence
of Christian community. In the fifth century it was the monastic movement
and the communities that sprang up around the monastic communities that
carried forward into the new culture those elements of the old order that
were essential for the survival of civilization and for its Christianization.
For centuries there has been a link from generation
to generation in passing on what is essential for understanding and living
Christianity. For many people that link was broken in the last generation.
This break makes the task of passing on the Christian way of life to the
next generation much more difficult. Communities can play an important
role in preserving the kind of living witness to the gospel and Christian
way of life that can preserve and transmit these essential elements to
Thus, it should be no mystery to us why the Lord
would call us to community for such a time as this. It should also come
as no surprise to us when we encounter obstacles and difficulties in carrying
out our mission. For we have been called to preserve in our communities
the very things which the new social order is aggressively working to destroy.