Read this great post on why the missional movement will fail, and was intrigued by the conviction that mission without discipleship is short-lived. It definitely resonated with me because while I think reconciliation is a fascination of the evangelical church now (errr, because the idea of throwing tracts out in the inner city just wasn’t working any more? or the caricatures of the “other” grow larger because we have exoticized them through the media and our own ghetto whiplash — “You speak English so well, David! My goodness, I can’t even hear an accent”; “See, you worked hard and made your immigrant parents proud, why can’t the rest of them do it?”; “I don’t even see you as Asian!”; and other such nonsense. Sorry for the long parenthetical.), but ultimately reconciliation must not be an addition to our houses of worship to God, but they must become integral to the structure and wiring of the entire building.
Furthermore, reconciliation has more in common with discipleship than mission, because reconciliation is one of those things that does not lends itself to progress towards an objective like the idea of mission. Mission somehow gets along well with words like “accomplished” and “achieve” and “target”, but neither discipleship nor reconciliation have that sense of finality. Both contain a sense of intimacy, balance and constant ebb and flow of relationship and history to it. Did I hear you right, Jesus? Did I understand you right, my sister, my brother? Let me check my motives, Lord. You have permission to tell me where I have offended you, brother, sister. There is a sensitivity to the “other” beyond “reaching them.” Missionality has the sense of being a good neighbor; reconciliation is akin to discipleship because it is an attempt at building a neighborhood where we raise kids together. Ultimately, this maybe a semantical argument, obviously discipleship leads to mission and mission requires discipleship…but my point is simply that reconciliation is more a dimension of discipleship than it is mission. The irony is that most churches think that reconciliation is a work of church outreach or cross cultural missions, but in the long run, if you are engaging the stranger for the long run, it is an act of discipleship, because facing the “other” means that you finally have the courage to face yourself and know where you end and the other begins. Is that not the first step of discipleship?