I Say Mission, You Say?
I was telling someone recently about my conviction that churches need to prioritise mission. Little did I realise how the word ‘mission’ actually came across. My friend asked me to clarify what I meant because all their mind was filled with was people walking around in sandals handing out tracts. I don’t know what comes into your mind when you hear the word ‘mission’, but that certainly wasn’t what I was thinking. I was actually thinking of something much larger than that. I was thinking about what God is up to in the world.
In fact, the entire story of the Bible is really a story about God’s initiative (or mission) to restore our relationship with him. God intended to dwell among us but when humanity rebelled against him (Genesis 3), our relationship was broken. Slowly but surely, as we read the Bible, we see God bringing restoration to this relationship. I’d encourage you to read the following Scriptures and keep an eye out for the word ‘dwelling’ or ‘dwell’: Exodus 25:8, Leviticus 26:11-12, Ezekiel 37:27, John 1:14, and Revelation 21:3.
As you’ll see, these Scriptures reveal the beautiful initiative of God. His mission is to restore our relationship with him, that he might dwell and live among us once more. Jesus came and furthered God’s restoration work by dying in our place on the cross. And he offers the presence and intimacy of his Spirit to all those who surrender to him.
Now, what we are called to do as the church is to join God in this same mission. It hasn’t finished yet! There are still many people completely disconnected from him. This is one of the reasons why the Bible calls us ‘the body of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 12:27). In many ways, the church is meant to be Jesus’ presence on earth and continue his mission. In fact, it was Jesus who once said to his Father, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them (his followers) into the world” (John 17:18).
When we lose our sense of mission as a church we easily become ingrown and unhealthy. When we lose sight of the fact that we are a sent people, we lose a vital part of our identity. God has not called us to be a stationary social club. God has called us to be a dynamic movement. And God has ordained that the gospel (the good news about Jesus) would be the chief tool he uses in this restoration movement. This is why the Apostle Paul was so serious about the gospel! He said he was set apart for the express purpose of sharing the gospel (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:17) and that the gospel contains the power of God to save people (Romans 1:16).
It is so important for us to not only prioritise the mission of God, but also to know the gospel of God. Without understanding the gospel, we cannot be effective agents in God’s mission. Part of the reason why I think the word ‘mission’ freaks us out is because we imagine forcing ourselves upon strangers who have no interest in what we have to say. However, I think this is an unbiblical misconception. The way in which we communicate the gospel can actually be far more natural (and enjoyable!) than you might have imagined.
I want to commend to you an upcoming event that can help equip our entire church in thinking about mission and the gospel. The speaker at this event, Sam Chan, has spent years thinking about how we can join God in his mission in natural, contextualised, and compelling ways. I would love it if you considered coming along.
Here are the details:
Connected Living with Sam Chan
Wednesday 28th August, 7PM-9PM
See you there,