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What Is the Mission of the Church?

Part 8 of 8: The Church in God’s Plan

 

- Largest gathering of evangelicals in world: Princeton; go out to the cemetery

- Princeton, Harvard, Yale: why were they founded? What are they doing today?

- It is hard to stay focused on an institution’s mission through generations.

- Every generation must return to Scripture and get this right. What is our mission?

 

I. The Mission of God

- What is God’s mission? Gen 1:28: creation as his dwelling place with humanity

- How God fulfills his mission:

(1) Sending of the Son to accomplish redemption

(2) Sending of the Spirit to apply the Son’s finished work until his return

- The Spirit empowers the church for mission: Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:8

- We are “witnesses”; what does a witness do?

II. The Mission of the Church

(1) The Mission of Making Disciples

- We are commanded to do more than bear witness; we are witnesses with authority.

- Matthew 28:18-20:

(1) Verbal proclamation of the news about Jesus

(2) Public recognition of those who respond in faith (baptism)

(3) Ongoing teaching

- All three should be kept together; otherwise, discipleship doesn’t really happen.

- Keeping all 3 together entails organization/structure→local churches

- The mission of making disciples is the mission of planting and building up churches.

- Wherever the gospel went forth in NT, churches were formed (e.g., Acts 14:23)

 

(2) The Mission of Good Works

- God has prepared good works for us to do: Eph 2:8-10

- These good works bear witness to the kingdom: Matt 5:13-16; 1 Pet 2:12; James 1:27

- Good works is loving our neighbors; example: Wilberforce

- But how many different kinds of good works out there need to be done?

- What should the church’s approach be? Spread thin? Focus? On what?

- Additional problems: Christians can have same moral convictions but disagree on means.

- Example: Scripture speaks authoritatively on sanctity of life, but not on political strategy

- Threat of mission drift: displacing evangelism, church planting, for social/political agenda

 

III. Corporate Mission and Individual Vocation

- Key distinction: what we do together and what we do individually (example: basketball team)

- What should be our “together” focus? Making disciples→planting, building up churches

- Focus will be evident in our organized programs, public teaching, budget

- Mission grid: mission fitness and moral proximity; focused budgeting is better than scattershot

- Does this mean we don’t care about the broader category of good works? No!

- Christians are called individually to different kinds of good works; the church helps equip them

- This distinction helps us avoid “Twitter mob” ministry.

- Also guards us from false accusations against others; Trade “you must” for “you can.”

- Our focus as a church: to expand the reach of the gospel through space & time.

- We cannot build the kingdom; let us have institutional humility.

- Let our goal be to hand the baton (clarity about gospel & mission) to the next generation