Before I can reply the inquiry of mission and its ‘ function to model the life of the Church, we must return to Jesus Christ to understand that it is non the Church that has a mission, but that God has a mission which is to be fulfilled through the organic structure of Christ, the Church of whom, Christ is the caput ( Colossians 1:18 ) . Yet as I reflect on where we as the modern-day Church are now within this twenty-first Century fighting for endurance and significance, it is apparent that the Christian Church is faced with more and more challenges every bit good as being called, “ to travel with the times and alteration ” . Therefore we must inquire ourselves what is the alteration that is needed? Where is our sense of mission as Christians today, where is our place, peculiarity and function within the mission of God? If we can get down to hold on this thought of mission so we may understand the missional function that God has called His Church to take portion in.
Can we state though, “ Missio Dei ” the mission of God began in the sending of God ‘s lone Son, Jesus Christ, into the universe ( John 17: 18 ) where harmonizing to the instructions of Barth in a talk in 1928, Barth “ connected mission with the philosophy of the three ” ( Wright. C. 2006, p. 62 ) . Furthermore both Hartenstein and Barth made it evident that mission must be rooted “ in an intratrinitarian motion of God himself and that it expresses the power of God over history, to which the lone appropriate response is obeisance ” ( Wright, C. 2006, p.63 ) . If we are to accept this axiom so mission has its foundation in “ the sending of God ” where the Father sent the Son and so both, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit ( John 16: 7 ) which expresses that human mission is seen as a partaking and enlargement of this reverent sending ( John 20: 21 ) .
Yet it was before Jesus Christ and the New Testament that God ‘s mission had its beginnings in the beginning of the Old Testament!
Harmonizing to Christopher Wright, “ the Bible itself is a missionary phenomenon ” where the books that make up the Bible are the consequence and informant to the unequivocal mission of God. Therefore in this manner, we are shown the narrative of God ‘s mission through the people of God and their connexion within the universe for the interest of the entireness of God ‘s creative activity ( Wright. C. 2006. p.22 ) .
The narrative Tells us that the Creator God has been missionary from the beginning of creative activity naming humanity to play a cardinal function in God ‘s will for the universe ; from adult male ‘s map to reproduce the Earth, ( Gen 1: 28 ) the naming of Abram and the chosen people Israel ( 12:1 ; 22:17 ) and Israel ‘s mission to do the one true God known. Yet because Israel failed to carry through God ‘s mission ( the false shepherds ) , God sent Jesus Christ to reconstitute His mission with the pinnacle and completion in the cross and Resurrection ( Isaiah 42: 1-9 ) . Yet Christians and Jews have a common mission ; to love God foremost and so to populate as Christ to others with the Jews fulfillment of the Torah as “ a visible radiation to the states ” by populating an unsloped moral life.
If we are to understand God ‘s mission for the Church today, so certainly we must foremost grok Jesus Christ ‘s mission and see how it resonates with the primary naming for all Christians in their ain typical ministries as looks of the love of God.
So how do we understand Christ ‘s function in God ‘s “ missio ” ?
Over two thousand old ages ago because God loved humanity, the Living God made Himself known to us in Jesus Christ ( Luke 2: 11 ) and harmonizing to Dr. Rowan Williams, “ stepped into our universe to transform it ” ( Williams, R. 2010- Message ) . Christ ‘s mission had already been expressed through the angel of the Lord to Joseph, Jesus ‘ earthly male parent in that “ Jesus would salvage his people from their wickednesss ” ( Matthew 1:21 ) .
Jesus ‘ Messianic mission was affirmed from the minute He was baptised by John the Baptist and anointed by the Holy Spirit by manner of a dove falling upon Him ( Matthew 3: 16-17 ) . Through the Spirit, Jesus was prepared and empowered for the three and a half old ages of ministry that lay earlier him as he ministered to those He had identified Himself with at his baptism through human wickedness and failure.
All the manner through John ‘s Gospel we are repeatedly reminded of Jesus ‘ mission in that Jesus Christ, the Light of the universe was sent by God the Father into this universe to salvage evildoers ( 1 Tim 1:15 ) and to do the “ merely true God known ” ( John 17:3 ) . Jesus came to convey hope for humanity, to give the gift of ageless life to whoever would believe in Him ( Exodus 13: 21 ; Ps. 36: 9 ) and to do peace between God and humanity and accommodating us to God through proclaiming God ‘s message of redemption through the penitence and forgiveness of wickednesss.
In Mark ‘s Gospel the narrative Tells us that Christ clarified His mission to His 12 apostles by explicating that He had come into the universe as the Servant that the prophesier Isaiah had already predicted, the Servant who would give his life as a ransom for many and fit humanity free from the bondage of wickedness and decease ( Mark 10:45 ) .
Throughout the Bible, Jesus gives us many illustrations of his mission by manner of the Good Shepherd who is called to convey the lost sheep and those who were non- Jews into one flock who would all have the same Shepherd ( John 10: 16 ) . On another juncture Jesus stood up and read from the coil of Isaiah, “ The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to prophesy the Gospel to the hapless ; to mend the broken- hearted, proclaim freedom for the captive, to give sight to the blind and proclaim the twelvemonth of the Lord ‘s favor ” and so astonished his fellow Jews by claiming that Bible had been fulfilled that twenty-four hours by using Isaiah ‘s prognostication to Himself ( Isaiah 61: 1-2 ; Luke 4: 16-21 ) .
When Jesus called the first adherents to come and be fishers of work forces, He was already ask foring the adherents to partake in His mission of distributing the Good News of redemption ( Mark 1:17 ) . In the three old ages the adherents followed Jesus, they were trained and formed for ministry and mission and even though they had non grasped the full extent of Christ ‘s mission, Jesus was fixing them to transport on His mission after His decease, Resurrection and Ascension into Eden. We can see that Jesus worked collaboratively with His adherents in the directing out of the 70 two into the crop in mission to prophesy the land message and mend the sick ( Luke 10: 1-17 ) . even before Christ ‘ decease and Resurrection, He prayed for his adherents stating, “ As You sent me into the universe, I have sent them into the universe ” hence doing it clear that Jesus ‘ adherents were called to play a portion in Christ ‘s mission. ( John 17: 18 ) .
Mathew ‘s Gospel tells us that in the Great Commission, Christ commanded his adherents to travel and do adherents of all states, to baptise them and to learn them to obey Christ ‘s instructions ( Matt 28: 19-20 ) . Therefore Jesus entrusted his godly mission from God the Father, to the apostles of which was to be continued until the terminal of clip and although those original apostles have died, the “ Apostolic mission ” still remains.
Yet harmonizing to Hans Kung, “ that apostolic mission is now no longer instituted by the Lord, but indirectly by work forces ” ( Kung, H.1976. p.456 ) out of an apostolic sequence of obeisance. The Gospel is known “ to be the beginning of all life for the Church ” ( Kung, H. 1976. p.457 ) and the apostolic Church where the people of God were drawn together through hearing the apostles preach the Good intelligence of Christ, are the followings of the apostles. Therefore the mission that Jesus Christ authorized for his apostles to partake in has since been passed on to the Church and handed down merely like the Gospel of Christ Jesus for all clip. Jesus reiterated how of import mission was at his Ascension, when he told the adherents that they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit that He would direct on the forenoon of Pentecost A.D.30 so that they could be His informants throughout the universe ( Acts 1:15 ) .
Although Jesus ‘ mission continues through the “ Apostolic ” sequence to peculiar ministries such as the diaconate and prebstery ( ) it is besides continued through the whole people of God through their baptism in the Holy Spirit and H2O ( John 3: 5 ) and the primary naming for all Christians to be a servant as Jesus himself came non to be served but to function. In baptism persons are re-born, “ Born of the Spirit ” ( Zondervan NIV. 1985. p.1631 ) and into a new life holding been anointed with the Holy Spirit like Jesus Christ, to proclaim the Kingdom of God in this universe. Mission is understood as being corporate where there are many different ministries such as priestly, deacon, revivalist and lay ministry that all work together for the interest of the Kingdom. As the priest is called to stand for and be a seeable presence of Jesus Christ, their naming involves constructing up the whole people of God and fiting and authorising them for ministry and mission to the church and to the community in which they serve, hence being “ Christ ‘s custodies and voice ” today ( Mother Theresa ) where Jesus is manifested in the universe.
The life of the Christian Church is wholly shaped by God ‘s mission, to witness to Jesus Christ and portion the good intelligence of the Gospel ” to the terminals of the Earth ” in whichever community it finds itself in, whether industrial, prison chaplainship, infirmary or parish. Without the Gospel there is no Church and to be a life and healthy Church, mission must lie at the nucleus of all Church life and if non, as Kirk provinces, “ if the Church ceases to be missional so it has stopped being Church ” ( Kirk. J. 1999. p.30 ) . Therefore our individuality as the Church is closely connected with the Christian career for the whole people of God, to portion and populate out the Gospel values and be Christ to others so that we can portion in the mission of God to carry through his intents for humanity. In this manner we can hold on that there is one ground entirely that the Church exists and that is, “ for the intents for which God called it into being ” ( Kirk. J. 1999. p.31 ) and this is to witness God ‘s activity within the universe by sharing the Gospel in title and action or by “ utilizing words if necessary ” ( St. Francis of Assisi ) .
Ever since the foundation of the Early Church, the Church has urbanized different “ theoretical accounts of being church ” such as Catholic, Pentecostal and Protestant that connect to the mode “ in which Christians believe themselves to be grafted into Christ ” ( Newbigin. L. 1953 ) . These three theoretical accounts of church have both dominated ministry in assorted times in Church history every bit good as shaped the character of the church and its life in ministry and mission.
The Catholic manner stresses the historic continuity of the Church with Catholic divinity showing that Christian life is shaped by the Eucharist ; to have Christ and so sent out to populate the Eucharistic life as a Eucharistic community as a seeable presence. Whereas Protestant divinity would claim that Christian lives are formed by Bible in the traveling out to populate out the Word and be the Gospel and the Pentecostal theoretical account where the accent is on being led by the Spirit. Although in theory our mission should be oecumenic through recognizing our cardinal Christian naming in the baptism commonalty which unites us in Christ our great High Priest, King and Prophet, ( 1 Peter 2:9 ) through our differences and division through divinity, it has non worked practically.
Yet Dulles suggests through his survey of Church that there are “ five theological methods of what it means to be church ” ( Dulles. A. 1976. ) where each theoretical account has played a important portion at assorted stages in church history. In Dulles theoretical account in “ the Church as Institution “ Abbot Butler challenges that for Catholics, “ the Church is basically a individual concrete historical society, holding a fundamental law, a set of regulations, a regulating organic structure and a set of members who accept this fundamental law and these regulations as binding on them ” . Therefore in this manner we can understand the Church as a perfect society. Similarly with Dulles “ Mystic Sacramental manduction ” theoretical account there is an convergence with Newbigin on the Church as Christ ‘s organic structure and the Spirit at work through His organic structure every bit good as the Church being Sacramental paralleling with Newbigin ‘s construct of the Catholic theoretical account.
In the Protestant theoretical account Dulles analysis of the Church as Herald suggests the laterality of house philosophy and being grounded in the Bible whereas the apprehension of the Church as Servant gives infinite for the churches that come from a more extremist divinity where there is a strong accent on the Church being a presence through service in and to the universe. Although each theoretical account has its strengths and happen its call to mission in its precedency, we must retrieve that each has its failing excessively. However what is clear is that whatever ecclesiological manner whether from Dulles or Newbigin if non working in coaction with the other theoretical accounts, will take to imbalance and deformations. Dulles states that in all of his suggested theoretical accounts that the Church, “ is seen as the active topic and the universe as the object that the Church acts upon or influences ” ( Dulles. A. p. 81-2 ) .
However within the British and Irish Anglican Church together with the Nordic and Lutheran Church there has developed a corporate mission statement, “ The Porvoo Common Statement ” where mission is understood as “ The Church as Communion, is to be seen as instrumental to God ‘s ultimate intent. It exists for the glorification of God to function, in obeisance to the mission of Christ, the rapprochement of world and all creative activity. Therefore the Church is sent into the universe to be a mark, instrument and foretaste of a world which comes from beyond history, the Kingdom of God ” .
John Webster believes that the Church as a hearing Church, “ is entirely referred to the Word of God by which it is established where the Church ‘ being is characterized by outwardness. In being ectopic, the Church ‘s topographic point is in the being and act of the Godhead and communicator of the Gospel ” ( Webster. J. p.47 ) . Without the Gospel of Jesus and the divinity of redemption and Jesus ‘ ontological position in the Trinity, there would non be Church as it is Christ ‘ Gospel of Jesus as a individual, His ministry, decease, Resurrection and Great Commission that gives form to Christian mission, civilization, moralss, head and linguistic communication.
Yet the “ Church ” has non ever done mission well and has left it ‘s grade of colonialism where Christians had non rather grasped the apprehension that Christianity was non all about Westernisation. In the twentieth century Catholic and Protestant missionaries were sent to East Africa to prophesy the “ Gospel to all creative activity ” ( Donovan. V. 1978. p. 4 ) and their missional ministry included puting up schools, infirmaries and cathedral in Bagamoyo. However at this clip there posed an tremendous challenge to these missionaries by manner of local bondage and the missionaries did mission by purchasing the slaves and change overing them to Christianity hence seeking to heighten the Kingdom. Yet for all their good connotations, the missionaries failed in mission because the “ new ” Christians although “ freed from bondage ” were merely Christians through the credence of Christianity and transition where while they were on the “ mission compounds ” ( Donovan. V. 1978. p.4 ) or in school but every bit shortly as they left they returned to their ain Massai manner.
Through this type of mission, a negative grade of another signifier of bondage was left hanging in the balance where future mission was barely possible. Vincent Donavan, a Catholic priest recognised that where those early missionaries had failed by manner of eliminating the Massai civilization and replacing it with Christianity and Western civilization, Donovan succeeded in mission by integrating the Gospel within the Massai civilization and being Church in a new topographic point and here I believe is a lesson for us all.
Since the bustle of the Decade of evangelism during the 1990 the Church in Great Britain and the U.S. has seen a steady rise in the figure of those non go toing Church. Whereas church planting in the 1990 ‘s was seen as the obvious reply to link to the post-modern church, there is now a 2nd sentiment on whether that was the manner to travel for growing. Harmonizing to Hirsch and Frost, “ the Christendom virus ” of making church for the simple ground of keeping a Sunday service instead than organizing a mission Jesus focused community of adherents ( Frost. M & A ; Hirsch. A. 2003. p.19 ) was passed on from the female parent church to the church works where the ideal of “ missionary church ” failed. Furthermore we have seen great alterations such as Sunday trading, the addition of athletics on Sunday forenoon and the affects of detached households sing on Sundays which have all had an impact on the Christian Church. Additionally there have been misinterpretations of the Church ‘s function every bit good as a widespread apathy towards the Church where Christians themselves have damaged the repute of Christianity through kid maltreatment and lost the public trust.
Although this poses challenges to us as Christians where many churches have seen a diminution in the Numberss go toing Church and a spread in immature people and young person, I believe it creates an exciting chance to take the Church to the people and run intoing them where they are at their starting points. Why non hold “ Church ” as a presence of chaplainship in all the metropolis malls or as a mid-week Sunday school as an after school nine at the local school? Alternatively of being in the church constructing why non hold church in a saloon, in a different context? Or possibly the Church is excessively busy seeking to link that we fail to see where Christ already is and acquire aboard them.
Alternatively within our civilization there are many who are afraid to portion their religion for fright of rejection and non desiring to enforce their positions on others and be accused of prosltying.
Yet for all churches there is a existent danger of going so focused on remaining viably fiscal that they become inward looking. Within this context the Church finds itself in the expression of care poetry mission where the energy is focused towards care at the disbursal of mission and over clip the church ceases to look outwards in mission and becomes a deceasing church, a sort of nine that is merely preoccupied with bing for its ain grounds and non for the interest of the Kingdom. The Church can non take to alter its programme for it has already been set by Jesus Christ and a life church will seek to make out to those on the periphery, on the border and do Christ known by holding mission at its bosom.
Additionally there is a turning job that the Church really reverses Jesus ‘ great committee by giving the invitation, “ to come and fall in us ” instead than traveling out and taking the Church to the people and through being an look of God ‘s love, run intoing them where they are at their starting points and bridging the spread.
Although many churches today have their ain mission statements similar to the illustration given above from ( St. James Church. Leicester ) the Bible gives us the first Christian mission statement in the words of Jesus, “ From now on you will catch people ” ( Luke 5:10 ) . Indeed if we looked at the New Testament as a whole, it could be expressed as the mission of Christ with the flood tide being where all mission is directed to, “ the metropolis without foundations whose designer and builder is God ” ( Hebrews 11:10 )
In the yearss of the early Church, the first Christians had to larn how they were to link to the civilization that they found themselves within, in the Greek/Roman universe. Later on Christianity was to go the province faith of the Roman Empire who would greatly act upon European civilization. In her book, Meade expresses these two stairss “ in the Church ‘s consciousness, the Paradigm of the Apostolic Age where the adherents were encouraged to travel and change over humanity and the Paradigm of Christendom where its mission was to change over the heathen faiths to Christianity. ” ( Meade, L. 1991. Ch 2 ) .Although the second of the two paradigms has ceased, Meade believes that we are still waiting to spot its inheritor.
Within this twenty-first century the Church has had to rediscover its individuality and topographic point within the Western universe as we grapple with post-modernity and secularism that has separated the Church from being the Centre of the community whereas in the nineteenth century, the Church would hold been the nucleus of the community from societal facets to society.
In this twenty-first century the Church in general has had to re-think its mission schemes and the Church of England has found itself “ at a existent watershed ” ( Foreword by Williams, R, Dr. 2004. p.1 ) where they have recognised that there are many different ways of “ being church ” that can run into the demands of different people. In this manner we have seen the Anglican Church detect its theoretical account of mission through Bishop Graham and the Mission -Shaped Church and encompass these new and exciting chances for the interest of the Gospel by manner of church planting and organizing “ new communities of Christian religion ” which seek to be inclusive of all people ( Williams, R. 2004. p.12 ) .
However although Church planting has been a major portion of mission scheme over many decennaries with all its good purposes of developing bing churches and fresh looks attractive as they are, are they in being strictly for the already converted Christians? Are the Church workss run intoing the demands of the rural communities and traversing civilizations and boundaries or is it more likely that we will happen church workss in the vicinity of the turning female parent church?
God ‘s mission is ongoing, it will ne’er alter but in order for the Church to be fruitful possibly we are the 1s who need to alter how we do mission. Can we larn from St. Paul who journeyed to the Gentiles and whose theoretical account of mission was by run intoing the Corinthians where they were alternatively of implementing Judaic jurisprudence and set uping Churches that connected with the countries ‘ civilization in which they were rooted as in the Church at Corinth and Cosmopolitan individuality and wickedness.
Do we today recognise like Paul, that “ there is a demand to separate between what is indispensable to the Gospel, and the cultural luggage that had become portion and package of the bing churches ” ( Beasley. M. 1997. p.15 ) .
Possibly if we are to understand how to make mission better in this century, we must admit in the words of Kung, “ that the Church exists for the universe foremost of all, rather merely, by cognizing what the universe is ” ( Kung. H. 1976. p. 617 ) and that through this we can witness to Christ within the universe and empower others to do sense of where life will take us in adult male ‘s hunt for the truth in God, redemption and damnation.
In decision, I believe that if we as the Church are to be fruitful in constructing up the Kingdom of God and faithful to Christ who entrusted his godly mission to us through the Apostles, so we must recognize that the theoretical account of Church we are called to be is a missionary Church that finds itself as a organic structure of adherents with Christ as the caput of the organic structure, where the Church exists to proclaim Christ as Lord in the universe and called into being to function the demands of the community. Yet it is non by prophesying to the already converted in the church edifice that we will do new adherents but by being incarnational and taking the Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ outside the four walls and out into the “ four corners of every state ” within our community and seeing where Christ already is and where the Holy Spirit, the great Evangelist is at work.
Truly understand that the church has a function to play in carry throughing God ‘s mission which is rooted in God, Father, Son and Holy Sprit etc
Here I am direct me. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.
- Front Cover image: By sort permission of Fr. S. Wang and www.radiantlight.org
- Croft, Steven. 2002. Transforming Communities- Re-imagining the Church for the twenty-first Century. Published by, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd. London.
- Dulles, A.S.J. 1976. Models of Church ( Second Edition ) . Published in Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.
- Healy. M.N. 2000. Church, World and the Christian Life: Practical -Prophetic Ecclesiology. Published by Cambridge University Press: Great Britain.