“It is not so much that God has a mission for his church in the world, but that God has a church for his mission in the world… mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission—God’s mission.” (Christopher Wright)
Christians have a tendency to confuse the church for the mission. As Wright said, the church does not necessarily have “a mission” as much as God’s mission of redemption has a church.
We believe both of these statements are true: the church was made for God’s mission and the church is itself a mission (in the sense that God is consistently working in His people, transforming us to reflect the character of Christ).
When we keep both of these things in front of us, they actually balance one another out. If we forget that God is actively working in us to change us, we can become consumed with being “on mission” and end up reflecting more of the culture that we are sent to rather the One who sent us.
On the other hand, if we fail to see that the church was made for God’s mission, we end up huddled together and failing to be the instruments of redemption that we were created to be.
Our expectation is that as we become more God-centered and Christi-exalting and Bible-saturated, a result will be that we will naturally become mission-minded people whose focus is on God’s mission to advance His kingdom here on earth not on building our own little kingdoms.
Since we are saved only by grace, it is our responsibility to humbly demonstrate our reliance on Christ and live out a security and peace as we confidently tell His story. Being mission-minded allows us to speak with confidence about the power of the Gospel without being condescending because the Gospel keeps us from basing our identity on the approval of others.
Because our value is centered in the Gospel and our lives are driven by God’s grace, we don’t feel the need to win arguments or prove ourselves through evangelism. We proclaim the Gospel because we love people and we love people because God first loved us.
As a mission-minded church we have true hope for everyone, thus we share the gospel with everyone. The gospel has produced a real hope that sees no one as hopeless since every transformation (or rebirth), including our own, is a miracle of God.
How Being “Missional” Is Lived Out Among Us
We recognize that we are called to carry out the message and work of God “in our generation”—in our culture. As we go, here are some “missional” things we try to remember as we recognize the culture in which we are called to carry out God’s mission. As a mission-minded church…
- We try to learn and speak the language of our culture. We avoid speaking ‘Christianese’, using religious prayer language, in-house ‘jargon’, and ‘super-spiritual’ talk.
- We try to avoid technical theological terms, unless we explain them.
- We try to avoid ‘we-them’ language, or language that belittles people of different political, spiritual, social positions, or is disrespectful of people with whom we disagree. Instead we engage people by humbly admitting our weaknesses and failures, while demonstrating the joyful difference the Gospel makes.
- We try to talk as if unbelievers are present… this not as an outreach strategy but as the fruit of a Gospel-changed heart.
- We try to sincerely listen to people and their stories. We want to understand, love and respect them unconditionally, and serve them by showing them how the Gospel meets their deepest longings.
- To do all of these things we try to have a knowledge and appreciation of the culture—it’s movies, books, music, trends—in order to understand the culture’s hopes, dreams, stories, and fears. Ultimately this is so we can meet people where they are and show them that only Jesus can fulfill their greatest desires.
- We try to be a Christian community that is in culture, yet is counter-cultural, showing the world how radically different a Christian society is in regard to things such as relationships, sex, and money.
- We try to learn together how to think, do, and be distinctively Christian in our work and recreation. This means learning: (A) what in our culture is good and can be enjoyed and celebrated, (B) what in our culture is anti-Gospel and must be rejected, and (C) what in our culture can be renewed and adapted for good.
- We try to encourage and celebrate all Christians who are advancing the “kingdom of God.”
- We try to show Gospel love and tolerance toward those whose lifestyles we don’t agree with. One of the biggest criticisms of Christians is that we are intolerant. But since we are saved and driven by grace, we should be the most humble, tolerant people in society.
- We try to demonstrate the unity of the church in our city, celebrating what God is doing in other churches as well as in our own.
- We try to develop alliances with other like-minded churches in order to serve our city together, even if it raises some areas of tension.