For the month of July my church has been focusing on the missiology of the universal church in the sermon series We Can’t Stay Here by Pastor Travis Davenport. So far this month, my concepts of both church and missions have been challenged. And this week my idea of missiology took on a whole new perspective.
First of all, right from the beginning my mind was blown by this statement:
It is not the church of God that has mission in this world. It is the God of mission that has a church in this world.
It may take a couple of readthroughs to process that statement. I know the first time I heard it I was like…”Hold up, Pastor, you’re going to have to repeat that.” Essentially, what that means is that God is on a greater mission than building the church. God’s ultimate mission isn’t to fill pews or collect tithes, but rather his mission is to restore all things to himself. Right from the beginning of time and the Bible God makes his mission clear.
In Genesis 3:15, God is speaking to sinful people and Satan. Adam and Eve have just committed the first sin and God is recognizing that although sin has fractured man’s relationship with God that the story doesn’t end there. In Genesis 3:15 God is referring to his true mission.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between her offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15)
Bible scholars refer to the second part of that verse as the protoevangelium. That’s a fancy theological word meaning that this is where God first reveals his mission–the mission of Jesus. From the moment that sin was introduced into this world God had a plan. He had a plan to restore the broken relationship. He had a plan to reach back out to the people that sin had taken a hold of. And his plan was Jesus. Yes, at first Jesus’ heel would be bruised. Jesus would face a terrible and excruciating death, but he would raise three days later and with that bruised heel he would crush Satan. That was God’s mission all along.
We as the church should never become so self-centered to think that God’s mission is ever about us. It isn’t. The mission isn’t the church. The church was created to carry out the mission. And really, that mission isn’t meant to be fulfilled within the walls of the church because every Christian has a role in that mission. It is our responsibility to restore God’s relationship with creation. It’s a personal mission. Not just the mission of a pastor or worship band. Each of us have people in our lives that God has placed there for us to carry out that mission for. These are people a pastor could never impact the way you could. Those people are your mission.
Many of us, are familiar with Matthew 6:9-13, also known as The Lord’s Prayer. In these verses Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray. In verse 10, he specifically explains the motivation behind our prayers and what it should be.
“Thy kingdom come.”
Not my kingdom come. Or my will be done. But Thy.
For far too long churches all over the world have gotten the wrong message. They are carrying out the wrong mission. The focus has moved from God’s kingdom to building kingdoms of their own. And oftentimes its an unintentional discrepancy. We’ve allowed our preferences to dictate our mission and not the other way around.
To wrap things up, the equation that should be used when looking at a church should be one that starts first with Christology. The understanding of the person and role of Christ should inform the missiology of a church. Missiology is the study of methods and purpose in the world. And after a church has determined its mission based on its view of Christ then it should be concerned about its ecclesiology, or the shape of the church.
We cannot begin with ecclesiology. The mission shouldn’t be fashioned after the way we prefer things to look or the type of service we choose to attend. The mission is based on Christ. And the mission is a lifestyle carried out by individuals everyday. As a Christian we should first take on the mission of God and live our lives with the purpose of restoring all things to God. And if we look at life through that lens suddenly the ecclesiology doesn’t matter so much anymore.
Our mission doesn’t start with the church. The church is for discipleship. And discipleship will always lead to evangelism. God’s kingdom will never grow if our focus is on ecclesiology. So let’s be a people worried about bringing people back into right relationship with God. Let’s stop competing with other churches or organizations and realign our focus with the mission of God. Let’s be a people who GO!
We can’t just stay here.
The Ameri Brit Mom