What is the mission of Jesus’ church?
I’ve heard it said several times that the church doesn’t have a mission, rather God has the church for his mission. I agree which means that another way of asking the above question is to ask what is the mission of God? But for practical purposes if the church is to participate in the mission of God, it likely needs to understand it in terms of what the mission of the church is. Further more, if local churches are to embrace locally contextualized mission that journeys with God in his mission then it seems necessary to understand what the mission of Jesus’ church is.
Here’s the problem. In my experience, a lot of Christians have trouble articulating a clear and concise understanding of what they believe the mission of Jesus’ church is. Various responses to the question that I hear offered include seeking and saving the lost, making disciples, serving others, loving God and neighbor, doing acts of mercy and justice, doing good works, and so on. None of these responses is wrong and to be sure, we could cite a number of particular passages from scripture to support each answer. The problem is that neither answer is comprehensive by itself. In fact, I believe the mission of God or the mission the church is called to participate in involves all of these activities and a few more.
God Restoring Creation
My understanding of the mission of God that God is restoring his creation to be what God created it to be from the very beginning. Within that restorative mission, God is redeeming people in Christ to share in his life and journey with him in mission by the power of the Spirit as followers of Jesus Christ until this restoration goal (telos) is fully realized in the second-coming of Christ. That mission calls us to the tasks of evangelism, disciple-making, serving others and doing good works of mercy and justice, live holy and righteous lives, etc…
But I’m still not sure if this helps us understand what this life looks. To be sure, the mission we journey with God on is a life that we are called to live. So, what does this missional life look like? Rather than describing my own understanding of what the missional life we live with God looks like, it would be better served if we all could describe it in our own words and if we can, then we our well on our way to understanding this mission we are called to involves.
So to help us, let me share a tweet from a friend and colleague of mine that I believe gets us somewhere: Jeremy Hoover, who preachers and ministers with the Otisville Church of Christ, tweeted:
“Read the Bible, compile a picture of the world to come, and then go forth to fashion foretastes of that world…”
Think about that. Are we able to compile a picture of what the world will be like fully restored (new heaven and new earth)? If so, then we begin living as a snapshot of this restored life, inviting others to join us as sojourners following Jesus towards the fulfillment of that restored world. That’s our mission, the mission of Jesus’ church!
Does that make sense?