On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 94: Sent

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20 RSV)

Mission has not been a word in common use among Orthodox. Perhaps it is because the word “mission” itself comes from the West, from the Latin missio. The Greek translation of the word missio is apostolos. Apostolic and apostle are words that are in common use in Orthodoxy. Yet both words missio and apostolos mean the same: to send, be sent, or one who is sent.

Several times in His earthly ministry, Christ sent (apostello) His followers out to carry His message beyond the local area. At His Holy Ascension, the last words of Christ to his disciples were words of sending: “Go therefore and make disciples…”

Those words are meant not just for those gathered on the Mount of Ascension, they are intended for all who are committed to the cause of Christ and His Church. We must always see ourselves as “sent” people. We are those who are sent to make new disciples, to teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded. The primary persons responsible for making disciples and teaching them in today’s Church are the Bishops, the apostolic (sent) representatives of Christ who come directly to us as new Apostles of Christ. But the Bishops cannot do this mission work alone.

It is a major part of our stewardship to see that the work of the Bishop is done not only locally in the parishes (with priests who represent the Bishop) but in the wider church and its efforts to “make disciples.” We can support Orthodox-wide mission efforts, of course. But, like the old saying goes, charity (stewardship) begins at home. Our own local parish is not to be exclusively a home for established Orthodox Christians. Rather, the local parish must function primarily as a center of outreach into the community in which it is located.

Christ has given to each one of us this trust of mission, that is, being apostolic. We must exercise a stewardship of that trust. Money of course is needed to maintain the churches. But we are not about maintaining. We are about mission, about being apostolic, about being sent. Thus without an outreach to bring in new souls, the churches are failing in their keeping of Christ’s trust. “Go therefore and make disciples…”

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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