One of the most controversial questions in the church today is, “What is the mission of the church?” You wouldn’t think that that would be controversial. People say, “We want people to know Jesus. We want to do good things in the world.” There are a lot of things that people agree Christians ought to be doing, but when we narrow and focus in a little bit, it becomes more difficult. People don’t always agree, but it’s centrally important that we get this right. What is the mission of the church? By “mission” we are asking, “What are we sent into the world to accomplish?”We have to focus on the Great Commission… The command is to make disciples, to go to baptize.
We’re talking about the church, not what you may feel called to do as a mom or dad or as someone who’s a teacher or an architect or mechanic. We have a different kind of sense of our own calling in vocation, but what is the church as the church meant to accomplish in the world? Is the church to make heaven on earth? Is the church to right all social wrongs? Is the church to be an agent of social transformation?
Those are hard questions because we are, as the church scattered, to be salt and light in the world. We certainly want to equip God’s people. As a pastor, I want to equip all the people in my congregation to see how obedience to Christ impacts what they do in their daily life. Yet, when we talk about the mission of the church, we have to focus on the Great Commission.
It is what Jesus said as his parting words before he ascended into heaven. If you trace out the trajectory of each of the Gospels, you’ll see that they’re all going toward this Great Commission. The command is to make disciples, to go to baptize. That’s the mission of the church. It is what makes Christian mission distinctively Christian.We’re calling people, as a sort of kingdom outpost, to inherit, embrace, receive, and enter the kingdom.
There are all sorts of good things we will do in the world as believers. Galatians 6:10 says to “do good to all people as you have opportunity, especially to the household of faith,” so we want to do good to all people. We’re blessed to be a blessing, so the blessing we have to offer is the blessing of inviting people into a relationship with Abraham’s chosen seed. That’s what it means to inherit the Abrahamic blessing: you embrace the good news of Jesus Christ.
We aren’t building the kingdom. We aren’t expanding the kingdom. That’s not actually the way the New Testament talks about the kingdom. We’re calling people, as a sort of kingdom outpost, to inherit the kingdom, embrace the kingdom, receive the kingdom, and enter the kingdom. We’re not really preaching the gospel of the kingdom if we’re not telling people to repent and believe that they might enter into this kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ. Preach Christ, plant churches, and proclaim the good news of the gospel.