Saturday, November 11, 2006

Vocational Mission

I have been thinking a lot about how to integrate mission and 'secular' work or business these last few months since I started this tent-making independent marketing business. And just today God directed me to
Luke 5: 1-11 which records Jesus' activities among the fishermen at Lake Gennesaret. In light of urban challenges, this passage can really be seen from the perspective of vocational mission.

I was thinking: "Does Jesus target the fishermen as a vocational group? Does his mission have a vocational focus?"

It is not difficult to find answers to these preliminary questions. Jesus calls his first four disciples from the fishing profession. His call to Peter is repeated three times, and each time the encounter occurs in Peter's workplace (aka business environment). The calls are meant for Peter to follow Jesus as a disciple, first of all in his workplace where he is to be a fisher of men and later to feed the Lord's sheep gathered in the fishing village where he grew up. If you read through the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was always in various towns on the shores of the Galilee Sea. It's clear that Jesus' ministry has a strong focus on the fishing occupation. With one third of the first twelve disciples being from the fishing profession, it shows Jesus' determination to reach this group (sub-culture) for His Kingdom.

I believe that the workplace, the market place and the business world are rather important mission fields in the cities. People in these mission fields don't come into the 4 walls of our church building. We need to go to them! Urban mission differs from rural mission in that cities are densely populated with many professions with business from various networks. Urban missionaries need to learn the art of knocking on and opening the doors of various professions. I believe that a ministry call does not negate the original vocational call. In fact, I would say that it may be better choice for 'full-time' ministry workers to be in the workplace or business (on people's turf), rather than leave their profession, in order to fulfill their calling. In so doing, they serve as models for church members in fulfilling God's bivocational calling upon their lives.


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Some good thoughts.

Just a couple of things:

1. Traditional, professional and direct evangelism is still extremely vital in urban mission.

2. I am not sure that talking about 'vocational callings' is really Scriptural.

Does God really call us to a specific occupation or does He instead give us abilities and the opportuntities to use those abilities?

Every Blessing in Christ


Kel said...

Having recently moved from Melbourne to a rural town, I think rural missional work has the exact same requirements

there are still a variety of professions, businesses and networks in rural areas

since being here, I've worked in three of them - natural health, disability services and community arts

sometimes by trying to define or name things we make it more complicated than it has to be

regardless of where we might live, or work, or play, we all have the same commission

Kitty Cheng said...

Thanks Matthew. Although I agree that traditional and direct evangelism is still important, I believe vocational mission is biblical (as I mentioned in the post regarding Jesus' calling the fishermen).

I think God can call us to certain occupations or businesses, as well as giving us abilities and opportunities to use the gifts and talents He has entrusted to us for His mission and glory.

Kitty Cheng said...

Thanks a lot for your thoughts Kel.

I guess what I was focusing on when I wrote about the difference between urban and rural missions was the population density. I really don't know the rural areas enough to give an accurate representation from my own experiences, but I believe the population in urgan cities would be more densely populated in terms of the various occupations and businesses than rural areas.

I certainly agree that rural missional work has the exact same requirements, and surely there are still many different networks and busineses in rural areas, but perhaps not as densely cluttered together as the urban setting?

Amen to what you said about us all having the same commission from our Lord.

Hey Kel, so are you still involved in work related to natural health, disability services and community arts? I am getting more and more interested in natural health lately too, and have been learning heaps through books and seminars :)

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Kitty, I was not suggesting that vocational mission was unscriptural. As long as we do not think of it as a substitute for more direct evangelism and mission.

Do you think that the norm is for God to call us to a specific occupation or do you think the norm is for God to allow us to make a decision as to how we use our gifts and abilities?

What Scripture's would you bring to support your conclusion?

Every Blessing in Christ


Kitty Cheng said...

Matthew, I believe God can use people in every and any situation -whether it's through vocational mission, or more direction evangelism and mission.

I don't really see that there is a norm for God. Throughout the Bible, God uses different people in so many various ways. Eg: Paul was used as he was a tent-maker (a specific occuplation), and He also allowed Paul to make a decision as to how he used his gifts and abilities.

What do you think Matthew?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I think there is no clear teaching in Scruipture that God has a specific vocation for each person, though I would certainly acknowledge that God has every right to do so and may well do.

However, this idea is extremely influential among Christians.

Christians are told that they cannot preach or enter the mission field unless they are called, which effectively starves Christian ministry of much needed workers.

I think Christian theology needs a more positive view of decision making in the Christian life.

Every Blessing in Christ


Kitty Cheng said...

I think that no matter what vocation each person has, they need to obey Jesus Great Commission - as they go about their life, vocation and business, make disciples of all nations.

If Paul or Barnabas were not called to enter the mission field (read Acts), could they preach? absolultely. I believe every Christian has the responsibility to share the gospel (but not necessarily 'preach' or be a missionary).

I think decision making has to be based on God's direction, guidance and leading, rather than just having a positive view of Christian theology.

Blessings to you Matthew :)

Godwyn Lim said...

Hey Kitty,

Sorry I haven't been blogging for quite a few weeks, I am reading all your wonderful entries!

One Thing you said is so true in one of your comments:

"Matthew, I believe God can use people in every and any situation -whether it's through vocational mission, or more direction evangelism and mission."

Amen! I agree with you! Check out my new Post when you are free ya!

Meantime, have a good week ahead! *Hugs*

audrey` said...

A very Good Morning to you, Kitty =)

Kitty Cheng said...

Hey Godwyn, thanks for your kind words and encouragement.

I will check out your new post straight away.

Hugs to you too dear brother :)

Kitty Cheng said...

Thank you dearest sister Audrey. Same to you. (((Hugs)))

Send my love to Bel too :)

audrey` said...

Thank you so much for your love, care and concern.
Bel and I appreciate you and your friendship very much =)