Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Identity and Effectiveness in the Twenty-First Century

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Identity and Effectiveness in the Twenty-First Century

Article excerpt

It is an urgent moment for the church, for its mission and its leadership. Mission has become the identifying framework and purpose of the body of Christ in the twenty-first century. Mission itself requires faithful, committed, and effective leadership. Such leadership has marks and characteristics that can be probed and enhanced. The Episcopal Church has a mixed record in developing and encouraging leadership for mission today. There is a general awareness that we must have effective leadership, and some good beginnings have been made. However, there is a gap between awareness and necessary development of leadership. The question: Will this church take leadership for mission more seriously and implement strategies for leadership development in a variety of meaningful ways? The moment is critical. The possibilities and opportunities are abundant. How can we envision and develop leadership that serves and expands the mission of the sovereignty of God?

The two go together, hand in glove: leadership and mission, mission and leadership. Both reflect important issues of identity for the church and its members. Both are keys to effectiveness for the church and its members. Each needs the other. Mission requires leadership to serve and shape it, and leadership requires mission for focus and integrity.

Both leadership and mission are receiving new scrutiny and interest within the church today. Mission itself is arguably the postmodern and postdenominational interpretative frame and ecclesiological foundation for the life and work of the body of Christ in our twenty-first century. However, this really is nothing new. To read the New Testament is to encounter a story of mission, GocYs mission in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth and in the very identity and purpose of the nascent Christian community. And the story of mission is in no way isolated to the early Christian story. The Hebrew Scriptures weave narrative upon narrative of the mission of God and of God's people.

Our time has brought a fresh reading and awareness to the mission identity and work of God and God's people. This has been true for the international and global church, and it is equally true for die church in North America. There is a realization that our identity, our ministry, and our future as God's people depend on a renewed sense and experience of mission practice and vitality for the church. There is a further realization - as ancient as die scriptural narrative and as recent as die experience of the twenty-first-century church struggling to accomplish its mission - that mission requires effective, passionate, and mission-directed leadership.

Mission as the priority comes "first" in many ways. It is the primary work of God, and it is the identity, purpose, and focus of God's church. There are many signs of this in die church today. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer includes die Baptismal Covenant at its very heart, a covenant that articulates the mission of God s community and individual members ofthat community. It envisions a mission of faith, service, prayer, evangelism, and moral life. Elsewhere in die Prayer Book the question is asked, "What is the mission of the Church?" An answer is clearly and directly given: "The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ."1 This enunciates the mission identity and core of die church, botíi of diese things being further articulated in more recent products of mission-focused worship materials especially the Litany for the Mission of the Church found in the 2003 Book of Occasional Services). However, there is much work to be done to frame a missional prayer structure for our church that is consonant with our growing identity and awareness.

In this case lex orandi certainly is called to reflect an emerging lex credendi. We do believe that God's mission defines the moment and work of the church globally and locally today. In his pivotal work Transforming Mission, South African theologian David Bosch articulates the call to mission as the primary element of identity and theology for the church in our time. …

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