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Paul Vadakumpadan, Shillong says,
Missionaries or Functionaries
360° VIEW
Shillong, Sep. 9. The Catholic and mainline Protestant Churches have a broad and integral concept of mission, unlike the conservative Evangelicals and Pentecostals.

The huge network of Christian educational institutions and service structures spread across the globe, especially in poor countries is the result of this broad understanding. The numerous charitable activities of the sisters of Mother Teresa or the schools, colleges and hospitals run by several other religious congregations in India afford an impressive example. Even diehard opponents of Christianity cannot ignore this fact.  Such services are not undertaken with a view to obtaining conversions as is falsely presented by some anti-Christian organisations in the country.

At the same time, a service, however laudable in itself, does not for that reason alone become a missionary service. If that were so, even machines like computers that make so much service possible would have to be seen as missionary. That is absurd. Thus a mere conversion strategy on the one hand and a purely functional service on the other both do not fit into our system.

A means of doing good by itself does not do good. It is just hardware that is lifeless. Even the best of computer hardware is useless without software. That applies also to the means available to the Church in mission, including all the service structures we have built up: enormous, stupendous, enviable, yet in themselves, lifeless and cold. The person gives life to the structure. Mission will flow from that person. When he/she manifests the loving kindness of God, the whole structure will be animated by that powerful force. If that person is not the bearer of God`s love, he/she becomes a mere functionary who can keep a function going. It is good, but not good enough.  

The personal element is crucial. If persons rendering a service are seen as manifesting the love and concern of a loving God, it becomes truly a missionary service. If the service is an expression of a person`s deep inner experience of God, it can be qualified as missionary. In other words, two persons may be doing the same service, one could be a competent and good functionary, the other could be an equally competent, yet good missionary.


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