As always I have been pondering mission and the church's calling to be a missional community. Here and here are discussions and posts I have done previously on this subject. Something I have been thinking about a lot since I returned from India is 'incarnational mission'. Briefly I'll share where I am at with this.
Incarnational mission as future fulfilment:
The Incarnation, the Word made flesh, reveals to us who God is. We see in Jesus the fullness of God. Not only that, but we see the goal of humanity. In other words (as I have explained elsewhere) Adam was created in the image of the resurrected Christ. Humanity therefore is created in Christ's image, and because of that we see the goal of humanity. We see in Christ what God wants us to become like. God does not want us to become like 'good' Adam, but that we journey to become like Christ. Adam (all humanity) had a goal to become like Christ but the fall disorientated our journey and we became 'sinsick'. Jesus is the cure. Indeed, all of creation has a goal to become something it has never been before, something better. And it will find its fulfilment in Jesus.
Incarnational mission embodies this concept. We seek to enable people and communities to become something they have never been before, something better. People and communities have a goal, a destination in Christ, and the Church is called to help people discover that hope and to join with them in the journey towards that hope.
Incarnational mission as identification:
The Incarnation reveals to us a God who fully identifies himself with us. Not as a King wearing a beggars cloak and pretending, but as a King who becomes fully one of us. He experienced and embraced the fullness of humanity sharing in all its limitations, struggles, temptations and sorrows.
Incarnational mission therefore calls the church to fully identify itself with the communities it is in. Not merely wearing a beggars cloak for a day, but walking fully with our community, loving them, being with them and experiencing what they experience. In that identification we can then seek to bring hope through the One who fully identifies and can fully heal all our pain.
This is a really, really quick summery of what I have been thinking. I will do a much longer post (3000 words or so) on this sometime soon.