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C o m pa s s B e a r i n g s G a r y Wa l t e r

The Map of the Mission

I
n the first months of this column we are mitted to the whole map of the mission. Some
building a concise statement of the identity, of its earliest decisions were to send missionaries
character, and mission of the Evangelical to the Alaska territory and to China. We jumped
Covenant Church (ECC). So far we have seen from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. But we
how we are missional Pietists (identity), in it have looped back to reach into the whole map
together (character), to see more disciples. of the mission to be more reflective of the whole
This issue we add “among more populations” kingdom of God right here as well. One-half of
as we look at the dimensionality of mission. the new churches we plant today are among pop-
In the great commission of Matthew 28 we ulations of color or are intentionally multiethnic.
remember we are called to make disciples of all As a result, one-quarter of all ECC congregations
nations. The Greek word for nations is ethnos, are among populations of color or intentionally
from which we get our word ethnicity. A deeper multiethnic. This makes the ECC one of the most
reading of that command is not just the geogra- diverse denominations in the United States and
phy of nations, but the mosaic of humanity. Canada, and the lone known Euro-immigrant
Sometimes from our vantage point we are group to cross the 20 percent threshold
not always mindful of the complex cultural in terms of number of congregations. Realistically, when
cross-currents Jesus navigated. He spent part of So we have the beginnings of a pretty it comes to being
his childhood in Egypt, was raised in a Jewish good mosaic: ethnically diverse; stylisti-
reflective of the entire
home, lived in a Roman empire, ministered to cally diverse; linguistically diverse; new
a Syro-Phoenician woman, and his cross was and established churches; small, medium, kingdom of God, we
carried by Simon of Cyrene from the continent and large churches; town and country, are probably at
of Africa. The incarnation is impossible without metropolitan, and urban settings; led
a woman, the cross is witnessed by women, and by women, led by men. Add to this the best consciously
the resurrection is first announced by women, tapestry of partnerships in more than incompetent.
all in a culture where women were marginal- thirty countries. If you were to gather
ized. He used a hated Samaritan as the star of together the hundreds of thousands of people
his most famous story and an enemy soldier as from around the world connected to the ECC,
an object lesson for faith. He moved among the the most common person you would run into
poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. would be a Congolese woman who speaks
He disappointed every political persuasion, from Lingala. And so names like Carlson and Johnson
the radical Zealots to the conservative Herodi- now share the Lord’s Table with Galdamez and
ans. The Romans didn’t know what to do with Herrera, Cha and Yee, Jemison and Davenport.
him and the religious leaders wanted to get rid But in reality we have a long way to go.
of him. The people who hate Jesus the most hate Realistically, when it comes to being reflective
him for not hating the things they hate. At every of the entire kingdom of God, we are probably
point Jesus moves among those who otherwise at best consciously incompetent: quite aware of
sneer at each other. He calls us to do the same in our shortcomings, but with a heart for moving
taking his unconditional love to all. forward. It will require resolve and intentionality,
That’s the point of the Acts 1:8 map of the not sentimentality. But in moving forward, that
mission. Jesus says here that we are to be his mosaic will more and more form the very image
witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the and picture of a community that the world longs
ends of the earth. We tend to think it is a simple for but is afraid is not possible. We can show
geographic reference to take the gospel farther that in Christ, it is.
and farther away. His hearers, however, would How is your congregation doing with your
have been jolted by the radical call to cross map of the mission? Can you identify the dif-
cultures. Judea is nearby same culture, Samaria ference you are making in Jerusalem, Judea,
is nearby cross culture, and the ends of the earth Samaria, and the ends of the earth? ■
is far away all cultures.
From the beginning, the ECC has been com- Gary Walter is president of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

June 2010 | 5