As God's New Covenant community, the church is responsible for the Mission of God's People in the time between the times, as we provide witness to the kingdom inaugurate by Christ and await it's final consummation.
The following is a concise summary statement for the mission of the church:
On behalf of the Father the church is sent by Christ the Son and empowered by the Holy Spirit to all nations as witnesses in order to make disciples for His glory.
On Behalf of the Father, Sent by the Son, and Empowered by the Spirit (John 20:21)
"As the Father has sent me, I (the Son) also send you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:21-22).
Sent by the Son
Like God's people in prior covenants, the church must view her mission as a component of the Triune God’s cosmic mission of restoration for his ultimate glory. The mission of the church is clearly rooted in the larger Mission of God. It is often stated, the church doesn't have a mission, the mission of God has a church. This is good language when rightly understood. The church is not God's only means of accomplishing his mission, but it is his exclusive means of accomplishing aspects of it.
Goheen is helpful with his four-part structure. As noted concerning the Mission of God, he claims it is to (1) redeem his image bearers and (2) restore his good creation. His understanding of the mission of the people of God (which he uses interchangeably with the church), has a vertical and a horizontal dimension: (1) worship God and (2) mediate blessing to the nations.Goheen's language here comes from his work, A Light to the Nations. While this is helpful shorthand, one must be careful not to overload the concept of blessing mediation with more than Scripture assigns to the church. Futhermore, it is entirely appropriate to nest the horizontal aspects of Goheen's understanding within the vertical aspect. For it is precisvely our service to God that presses us to be witnesses to the nations.
Empowered by the Spirit
Develop this point further.
- Prayer is a crucial part of the mission.
- The Holy Spirit is the one thing they are told to wait on after their commissioning.
To All Nations (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8)
While there is question among scholar's concerning the centripetal and centrifugal purposes of the Old Testament people of God, it is abundantly clear that the new covenant people are scattered in order to gather.
Use Goheen again here some here and note that this is debated about the OT people of God, but that it becomes abundantly clear that this is one distinction in the New Covenant purpose of the peoiple of God.
As Witnesses (Acts 1:8)
The word group centered around the term μάρτυς is significant throughout the New Testament, especially in the gospel of John and Acts. It is significant how frequently this is used to describe the role of Christians in Acts and the work that the earliest Christians were doing. That this is the primnary role of the church it's in participation in the mission of God is clear in Acts 1:8, where Christ explicitly tells his church that they will serve as witnesses to the ends of the earth. However, what exactly does it mean for the church to be witnesses?
When Everyting is Missions…
There are assuredly dangers in defining this with constraints that are too narrow. In doing so, it is entirely possible to confine this identity as witnesses to only certain quarter's of one's life. In this regard, sacred things are divided from secular, and the call to bear witness has no hold over areas deemed secular.
Of course, dangers exist in the other direction as well. A maximalist definition of witnesse-bearing runs the risk of overloading the concept to the point of losing it's meaning altogther. As Stephen Neill rightly notes, "When everything is mission, nothing is mission."Find the place where Neill said this. Wright, who states clearly in his introduction that one of his primary goals in writing his theology of mission is to include all of biblical ethics into the mission of God's people, glibly dismisses this warning from Neill.
What is needed is a via media position that avoids the extremes of missional essentialism and maximalism, instead aiming to understand the mission of the church as life-encompassing without attempting to undescore ethics by merely making it a subset of mission. A nuanced approach can follow the warp and woof of Scripture more closely, prioritizing what Scripture priortizes in it's explanation of mission. To this end, witness bearing is crucial to a right understanding of mission, as it is essentially testimonial in nature.
A Priority on Proclamation with a Pratice of Faithful Presence
The purpose of Christian mission is to bear witness to the work of God through Christ and to His kingdom. As the New Covenant community, the church in its local expressions should serve as tangible outposts of the inaugurated kingdom, a preview of what is to come. However, a right understanding of the pervassive and lasting impact of sin cautions aspirations of societal transformation as the purpose of Christian mission. The curse of sin impacts both individuals and all human systems. Its only remedy is found in Christ's atoning work and its complete eradication will only occur upon his return to establish a new heavens and new earth. In that regard, the mission of the church cannot be to change a city or the world in this ultimate sense, that work is reserved for Christ alone. Furthermore, the church must humbly admit that it is still affected by sin's curse and could not replace human society around it with a new perfected order if given the chance. Attempts at this only led to Christendom. However, the church is to bear witness to the one who has accomplished redemption even as we await it's complete application to all of creation.
Include here a discussion of representationalism vs. incarnationalism, tying in the chapter from Paradigms in Conflict.
A sober understanding of sin does not alleviate the ethical component of witness-bearing, it does change its aim from transformation to testimony. The Christian mission requires a testimonial ethic, one that encompasses every facet of life: public, private, family, professional, and leisure. All of life falls under the Lordship of Christ, and all of life testifies to the transformation that occurs because of the gospel.
Though Scripture is abundantly clear that witness bearing is not a merely, or even primarily, passive activity. Bearing witness requires active proclamation of the gospel message. In fact, Scripture seems to place a priority on the proclamation of the message within the mission of the church. How do we see this priority in Scripture? The example of Paul and the examples provided by Luke in the book of Acts place a priority on actively carrying the gospel message to those for whom it is news (Scripture References). Paul, in his letters, places a priority on verbally sharing the gospel message with others (References).
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 as Witness Bearing Explanation
Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people…For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion, that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.
From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:11-21).
Ephesians 3:10 - through the church, wisdom of God is made known
In Order to Make Disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)
If witness-bearing is the role of church, then disciple-making is the means of the work. It is the continual work of the church until the end of the age.
The Great Commission in some form shows up in all four of the gospels.Support this claim with the verses in each. The central nature of this task to the mission of the church can be see by its inclusion in all of the narrative recounts of Christ and his work. Furhtermore, that it is the priority of the Christian mission can be noted in the manner in whicd it is introduced. R.T. France notes in his commentary on Matthew that the placement of the passage at the very end of the book serves as a crescendo for the entire narrative. It is, France claims the key to understanding the whole gospel, becauses it serves as the intersection of many of the gospel's most central themes.R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 1109.
Teaching them to obey all I've commanded
[[This section needs to connect with the discussion on Transformative Discipleship::lmn]]
For His Glory (Revelation 7:9; Philippians 2:10-11; Habbakkuk 2:14)
The chief motivation for the mission of the church is that God would receive the glory that He is due.
As noted in the Foundations document of the International Mission Board:
If the glory of God is our ultimate motivation, this will define both the goal of our task and the manner in which we pursue that task. The goal of our task is that the earth be filled with the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). Our passion is to see Him receive the glory that is due His name from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Psalm 96:1–9). Everything we do in missions is a means to that end. Foundations, 29.