Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mission

Excerpt from Missional Tribe Interview with Ed Stetzer

MT: Any practical advice to pastors and leaders on how to ensure that proclamation (as Frost would put it) is not de-emphasized in their efforts to move their faith communities toward a more missional stance?

Ed: I think you have to see it as one mission but with different facets.

To see all of this as one mission requires a biblical understanding of the gospel and the mission. The beginning point is to bring people into the mission (by seeing them become believers and followers of the King); the second phase involves forming groups of these believers together into transformational units (churches); the third aspect involves fulfilling the one mission (of bringing more into the mission AND serving the hurting) to the point that societal and cultural impact takes place.

While these often do not happen in a perfectly sequential way, a progression can be witnessed or identified. Hence, because of the order some conclude that a priority of evangelism exists. It is a fair statement, but incomplete.

A "priority" often creates a dichotomy where there can only be one. It is not either/or. Really, it is not even "both/and"--it is "one mission." Churches that choose to join God on his one mission see the transformation of individuals because it is intensely evangelistic, the transformation of cooperative units as new congregations are formed, and the transformation of society because it cares about the world, because Jesus called the church to advance His kingdom in the world.

Perhaps a solution to our false trichotomy can be found by understanding the gospel and the Kingdom. Though the church is not the Kingdom of God, it is a sign and an instrument of the Kingdom. But, how does one enter the Kingdom? Well, by repenting of sin (a response to evangelism). Note the message and the response, "But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized" (Acts 8:12, HCSB).

As Christians we have an obligation to care about society--and the increasing evangelical consensus on the Kingdom of God calls us to plant new churches and engage in good works because of our Kingdom obligation. Jesus calls us to serve the poor and care about our communities so that we might obey the King and demonstrate His Kingdom, showing and sharing the good news of Jesus.

Thus, proclamation leads people to Christ who then join together in the larger mission. That mission is to see the world transformed by the gospel. The focus is to see people and society more like Jesus would have it be--and the church is the tool God uses to accomplish that agenda. The church is not the goal; the gospel of the Kingdom is the goal and the church is the tool. As such, we invite people to "repent and be baptized" (Acts 8:12) and then to be a part of the mission of Jesus to serve (Luke 4) and to save (Luke 19:10).


2 comments:

Philip Murphy said...

long time lurker. thought I'd just post a comment to say, "keep up the good work."

Later.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Philip. Always good to know someone is reading! :)
Jim