GOD'S COVENANT LOVE: celebrating 30 years of God's Faithfulness in Christian Covenant Community [Go to Table of Contents]

The Call to be a Missionary People
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 age

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 future generations. 

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. 

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Bruce Yocum (second to far right in photo above), Presiding Elder of The Servants of the Word, and missionary coordinator in The Sword of the Spirit,  co-led an international ecumenical youth conference in August, 2000 in Hautecombe, France with youth leaders from Chemin Neuf Communities and Sword of the Spirit communities. Go to web page article on Hautecombe 2000 here.

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