Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Missional Church Part 1: The Relationship of Church and Mission

I am setting out to write a 5 part blog series on "Missional Church."  In part one I'll discuss the relationship with the Church and God's mission.  In part two we will take a broad look at what must change in most of our churches.  In part three I give a few practical missiological steps your church can take to get started in the right direction (beware, they are gonna be tough).  In part four I share a bit of my own experience in Missional Church.  And in part five I'll cast a vision for you that really gets me pumped!  So without further ado...

The Relationship of Church and Mission
Most of my life I never gave a second thought to the meaning of “church.” I wonder how many Christians are like me. How many of us have stopped to think, “Why are we all doing this? What is all of this about? What is the purpose of the Church? Where did we come from? And what does God want us to be doing?”

Six years ago, I began a journey asking these questions to myself and my Christian brothers and sisters. In this blog post I will attempt to answer these questions according to what I have found in Scripture, and in my journey trying to discover Jesus’ reason for establishing a Church.

In order to why Church and Mission are inseparable, one must first understand who God truly is. We must understand that God in His very nature is community. The Father, the Son and the Spirit are one fellowship. They share everything in common. Yahweh is One God in three distinct Persons. The three live in perfect union and love with each other. This is why God created humankind, because it is His nature to love, to be in fellowship and perfect unity.

When He created humankind, He set aside a specific people (Israel) that He called His own and said He would bless the entire world through them. As God sent a blessing to Israel, so they would be his advocates to the world by passing the blessing on to the Nations. Unfortunately, God’s people continually turned their back on him despite the blessings.  Yet He continued to pursue this love relationship with them. Eventually, He did so through His Son, Jesus, that was sent into the world as a missionary to bring His people back into this love relationship. Then as the Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Spirit to the Church to empower them to be full participants in God’s mission.

It is through this understanding that we see that God is a missionary by his very nature. Mission belongs to the Trinity, and as such is a gift that the Trinity gives to the Church. Our great example of course is the first ever missionary, the King Jesus Himself. It is through His example that the Church understands God’s mission. For a great understanding of what this mission will look like, we look to what many scholars call Jesus’ inauguration address.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus makes it clear that God will continue the work of blessing the world through His people as He blesses them. And this is exactly what we see Jesus doing throughout His ministry. He proclaims good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, gives sight to the blind, sets the oppressed free and proclaims the good news of His Kingdom reign. This is God’s mission, nothing more, nothing less. And this is the responsibility of Christ’s Church: to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, give sight to the blind, set the oppressed free and proclaim the good news of Jesus’ Kingdom.