What's your Function?
If someone asked you what is the function of your ministry, how would you answer? Is it to bring new members to your church? Is it to instruct the next generation in the faith? Is it to make sure the people in your congregation are cared for? Is it to make sure that the corporation (yes, legally most congregations are corporations) continues to be financially viable?
What's your Mission?
Now what if someone asked instead what is your mission, how would your answer be different? I would hope that one would not merely search the files and old newsletters to pull out the mission statement ratified by the church council in the 1970’s, but give a ready answer about what his or her church feels called to do. The question I would like to explore is is there a difference between function and mission? Some of the corollary questions are: is there tension between the two ideas? Do we at time confuse them? What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.
Update: September 26, 2013
Some helpful Distinctions:
In seeing some of the responses so far I have come up with these ways to help distinguish between mission and function.
1. Focus: Mission is outwardly focused on God and those God calls us to serve. Function is internally focused on the self or organization.
2. Purpose: Mission is concerned with tending to the relationships with those involved, God first and then those who God calls us to be in mission with. Function is concerned with the output. How good are the sermons the pastor writes, how many meals delivered by the soup kitchen etc. So function is accomplishment based while mission is concerned with the health of relationships and their interactions.
3. Scope: Mission is always open to new information, in fact helpful mission strategies are always look for new information to help see where God is leading. When thinking about function the scope is always limited to the task at hand so new information can even be harmful at times.
4. Nature: Mission is at its core an entire way of life. It relies on a holistic attitude to bring all areas on one's life into focus to follow God's call. Function is a component of this, but just a part. In the end our functions must serve the mission we have partnered with God to carry out. It is when we elevate our function to the level of the overall mission that our confusion comes.
By praying regularly and coming back to the cross through remembering our connection to it in our baptism, we can help remember our identity and focus our various functions on the overarching call to God's mission for our world. By staying grounded in God's Word contained in the bible we can help put the pieces our our lives together.