Service or Mission?

A few weeks ago, I asked the youth about mission projects and quickly realized I hadn’t set up the conversation well. I know the care our youth have for all God’s creation including the environment, animals, the elderly, and LGBTQ+ persons.  NUMC youth are deeply caring and passionate people! I was looking forward to a rich discussion about the variety of things they are doing this summer.

Because I didn’t phrase the question well, our discussion ended up being more about mission trips – which wasn’t the direction my mind was headed. The challenge was that I assumed that our youth knew and understood the word mission. Mission is often used as churchy word for service. Both mission projects and service projects are focused on helping others and/or caring for the earth. The difference is in our motivation. When I hear the word service, I often think of the community expectation to do good. The difference is subtle, but mission is the work we do to help others because we are people who follow Jesus. Knowing God’s enormous love and grace in our own lives, we respond with love and care for others, whom God also loves. In mission, we become partners with God. We see the hurts of the world as God does. Problems of the world break our hearts. We feel compassion, as Jesus does in this week’s story Matthew 9:35-38. We follow Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our United Methodist mission statement reveals both the foundation and the purpose of our work: “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

In the coming months, we will be developing a multi-age mission innovation lab funded by the endowment grant. Beginning with identifying those concerns for which we experience deep compassion, we will we develop collaborative solutions, transforming the world in partnership with Christ. Would you like to join us? Please let me know!


Christine Hides
Director of Ministries with Children and Youth

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