Dreaming about a mission begins with prayer. We pray together, we pray often, and we listen to God's voice. Some people ask, "How do you know if God is speaking to you a mission?" And, while that's difficult to answer entirely there are some helpful hints to guide us along the way.
1) It often appears that a church's mission is directly related to its community. Now, for some that can be the immediate neighborhood, a non-profit that the congregation feels a strong connection to, or it could be it's own members (I'll come back to this one later).
2) A church's mission is often tied to strengths that it presently has so when praying for discernment a church often finds the foundation for mission is already present.
3) A church's mission will take what is inside the church's congregation and move it outside. Mission is always about reaching out.
4) A church's mission will always ask more from the church community that it feels it has to give.
So, just looking at these, we might ask if the mission of Milner Memorial is to be space where people can gather, meet, use our building. Certainly that could be part of a mission. It satisfies several of the above criteria, however it comes up short on asking more from the church than it feels it can give. The question is, "How is God growing MMPC, how is God challenging our faith, testing our ability to trust God's guidance over our own?" Perhaps with a minor change this could be a mission. What if it wasn't simply about outside groups using our space, but was also about the cultivation of radical hospitality? What if in our sharing of space we reached out to marginalized groups offering them the first fruits of MMPC and as a congregation took personal interest in these groups, what they are doing, and how we can offer support through prayer, care, and openness? It might mean offering space to a Muslim group or an AIDS clinic. Who knows where hospitality might lead...
Another mission idea could be around the issue of food insecurity. This week I'll be meeting with Tami Purdue of Sweet Peas Urban Gardens. I'm sure she will have some insights into the SE Raleigh neighborhood. And, back in 2014 a food survey was done by Voices into Action highlighting food deserts and faith communities in SE Raleigh. Food is a real concern in this part of Raleigh. What if MMPC's mission was to build on the strength of land, access, and space to create a food ministry of farm to table to fellowship to service. Maggie Kane runs a group called A Place at the Table where she takes food service to communities as a community lunch. Many people pay what they can pay, others serve in the kitchen for their meal, while others pay more than what the meal is worth because of the mission it supports. Dreams and mission are all around us Milner! There's so many dreams we can dream.
I invite you to pray with me over the next weeks and months as we explore the many great things God is inviting us to look at and live in to here at Milner.