bits from bob....

Missions? Missional? What Are We Talking About?

by Bob Young
©, 2013, Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

What do we mean by missions? Why should the church be concerned and interested? Why is involvement in missions important for the church? What ought the church to do? How and why should Christians participate?

The basic idea of the word mission is the idea of sending. Without deeper study, we easily miss, or ignore, basic teachings of Scripture. We need reminders. Clearly, God has commissioned the church. God has sent the church into the world. The church has received a commission. God commands his disciples to GO. The church is sent; the church also serves as a sending agent. The church is to SEND. The church does not exist solely for itself--the church exists also for the world. The church is not called to focus on itself and serve itself. The church is called to reach out and to go. The Great Commission is sometimes translated, "As you are going...." The text assumes that the apostles, disciples of Jesus, and we in the church today, will be going. Our lives are filled with going. As we are going, we are to remember our commission from God. The Great Commission is a basic text for "evangelism." The word evangelism signifies the sharing and proclaiming of good news. One can translate the verbal infinitive literally, "to good news." I am "good news-ing" is equivalent to I am evangelizing.

The good news of the gospel (gospel is a noun meaning good news) is for the entire world. Mark's version of the Commission speaks about going into every part of the world and proclaiming to every person. To make the good news known, we must recover the biblical mandate for going--both locally and worldwide. The church must recover these two aspects of its sent-ness (its mission).

The church must discover afresh that it has been sent into the world immediately around it as well as into the world more distant from it. Contemporary North American culture (and other cultures as well) have marginalized the church. For more than 1500 years, from Constantine to fairly recent times, the church existed in or near the center of society. When the church is a crucial part of society, the application of the mandate for going is primarily, perhaps even exclusively, to foreign mission. The church centrally planted in a culture or society makes it appear that almost everyone in the society is in some sense Christian. When the culture is Christian, the church's sense of its responsibility to go to the culture diminishes. Few observers today can miss the fact that the church no longer has a privileged position in society.


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Last updated June 1, 2013