What is the Church's Mission?
Jesus speaking to the disciples at the end of His Earthly ministry declares in Luke 24:47&48 these words,
47 "It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ 48 You are witnesses of all these things."
It is not difficult to hear in these words a mandate and a command to proclaim the message
of deliverance from sin to the world. It is important that we think about what Jesus means and how we can do this mission? We also have the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20
"18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We can turn to the pages of The Acts 1:8
8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”and philosophical ideals."
and see that there is an emphasis upon our witness. We are called to be tellers and more to the point people who show that we know personally the Love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ. If we believe that the church was created for nothing more than getting together on Sunday and Wednesday, then we are truly in trouble.
From the outside in, the church is two things, an Organism and an organization. The church is an organism because it composed of living breathing, feeling and thinking organisms, people. It is an organization because it has formal structures, offices of servant leadership and rituals and practices that uniquely identify it with the Christ Movement. The church, the organism and the church, the organization are often confused as the same which leads to a failure on the part of the church to fulfill its mission. It is critical to see them as separate with one being subordinate to the other and the other serving the purposes of our Lord Jesus Christ. The church the organism is living and growing. It must be fed, loved, cared for and strengthened in order to fulfill its mission. The church, the organization serves the church the organism by creating the patterns by which we operate, where we operate and how we operate. The best way describe the difference is in the instance found in Matthew 21:12&13 which relates,
12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!"
On the surface it appears that Jesus is saying that the money changers have no place in the temple. That is not what Jesus is saying. Their original purpose was to take the money of people traveling from other lands who have come to worship in the temple and change it into the money used in Israel. It's the same as when you travel to another country you must exchange your dollars for Euros Europe, Pesos in Mexico or Yen in Japan. The problem in the temple was that the money changers were cheating the people by not exchanging the money at a fair rate, in effect stealing from the people. The Money changers were part of the organization designed to serve the people, the organism. When the organization began to abuse the organism, it came under Christ's condemnation.
To truly understand and to focus on the Mission of the Church we must make and keep clear the distinction between the work of the Church, the organism and the structures of the church, the organization. The Church will survive without the church, but not in the reverse, because the Church, organism is on the mission, the organization is just a vehicle that assists us in doing the mission, it must never become an obstacle.
by Garry M. Spotts, M.Div.