Mission Takes Flight
Forty-eight hours from now I will set off on a trip of 425 miles (684 kilometers)—to the 150th anniversary of the Adventist church in which I was baptized at age 12.
If I add up all the pieces of my actual travel—20 minutes driving to the airport; 1 hour and 15 minutes in flight; 58 more minutes driving to my final destination—the total is just 2 hours and 33 minutes.
If Ellen or James White, Stephen Haskell, or J. N. Andrews had been making that identical trip when the South Lancaster Village Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized in 1864, they would have traveled nearly 16 hours by train and slept a night in New York City—if their train was very fast and no cows were on the rails blocking the steam locomotives.
I will work a full day Thursday, attend committees, edit articles, answer e-mail, and then fly to my destination after dark. My ideas of what I can accomplish for the day—my mission—are built on my knowledge of the technology that will get me there.
Method frames our imagination of what we can accomplish in mission.
When all the world walked or rode a horse—which was the case for most of the past 6,000 years—the gospel traveled at the speed that disciples traveled, which is to say, about four miles (6.4 kilometers) per hour on foot or 15 miles (24 kilometers) per hour on horseback.
But when the methods changed, so did our estimates of what we could do in spreading the gospel. Today, not only can I make long trips in a fraction of the time it took Adventist pioneers to travel that distance, but I no longer always need to go there in person. By videoconference, Skype, FaceTime, or similar digital platforms, I can see and be seen half a world away from where I sit in my office chair.
Mission is changing because methods of doing mission are changing. And that’s a good thing. No, actually, that’s a great thing!
As you read this month’s cover story, “Tides and Skies,” pray for the vision to use the best methods to accomplish the greatest mission to which the Spirit is inspiring you.