What should we be doing? The mission of the church

This is first of all some follow on notes from discussions durning our Union Learning Community module on Church and Mission and secondly something for those of you who hqve read Chris Wright’s The Mission of God and Gilbert and DeYoung’s The Mission of the Church and stil thinking ” What should we be doing?” It also folows on from my talk at the Union Conference on ” Blessing the Church.”

Here are the two polar opposites (nb Having read both the above, I think Wright and DeYoung would equally reject both of the below as unhelpful caricatures, yet I think these are the very caricatures we have in mind when trying to work this one out).

1. The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, therefore, social action is none of our business. If you want to go and do something like helping people with debt, providing clean water, educating the poor then you are free to do it but it isn’t tge responsibility of the church.

2. God’s Mission is a new/restored/renewed creation, therefore everything we do is mission because it is working toward that.

We then work out where we sit on the spectrum, This affects what we try to do as a local church and where we send our money.

Here’s a third option

– Glen Scrivener who teaches the module argues that there is continuity between the Creation Mandate to fill and subdue the earth and the Great Commission to go and make disciples. Note making disciples means we teach them to obey all Jesus commanded which must include the 2 great commandments.
– Our focus is on the end goal. We are eschatological people (Ephesians 1:10) so we are right to think in terms of God’s New Creation
– However, thinking that you can do mercy missions that will contribute to that New Creation is clearly deffective. Making disciples is the way that Jesus has told us to go about his business
– At the same time, we don’t want to fall into the trap of oferring help in order to simply get an audience for a Gospel message. That sounds like we are uaing people.
– However, what if we were to think about the church as a community of obedient disciples making new disciples. It means that whatever we do together muat first of all have verbal Gospel announcement at its heart but also that very naturally the way that the community functions means that we reflect communal obedience to Jesus which models what it is lkke to be disciples together. In other words, I am less interested in mercy missions and special programmes and more interested in seeing churches where eating together, looking out ffor those in need, speaking up for justice, standing alongside the vulnerable and taking care of our environment is just naturally part of who we are and what we do because tgose things reflect obedience to Jesus. We don’t do them alongside of, instead of or even to create opportunities for Gospel witness but it is also just natural that whatever we do and wherever we are, we are sharing the good news intentionally.
– The local church should be making wise decisions about its resources including time, money, gifts and so should never be under pressure to take on ecery idea that members have because tgese wont always fit in with their corporate priorities but because tgere is a sending and scattering element to church life it is good to encourage chudch members to show neighbourly love in their daily life too and this might include getting involved in specific activities.
– The local church will not just want to give money to a remote mercy ministry because wider world mission will be enabled by genuine partnership between mission shaped churches for the Gospel.