Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Missionality" from My 1995 Fuller DMin Dissertation -- Part One

            Mission originates in the heart and mind of God, flowing out of his divine character and being.  The mission of God, or missio Dei, is to establish his rule and kingdom on earth, as well as in heaven.  It consists of his purposes for the creation of the world and the redemption of humankind, impacting every realm of life including the spiritual, moral, personal, social and physical realms.  Mission centers upon the salvation of the world through the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Therefore, the mission of the church is the continuation of the saving activity of God in the world.[1]  It is a mission of humble service that embodies the total impact of the church as it is sent to carry out God's will and work in the world.[2]  This mission continues the mission of Jesus, heard in his words, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you," (John 20:21).  The church participates in establishing God's rule and kingdom on earth and in heaven.  It was re-created in Christ Jesus for this very purpose.

            The mission of the church includes the mandate for compassionate service and the mandate for disciple-making.  They come together in the mission of God, as integrated ministries of word and deed, components of the witness to the saving work of Jesus Christ.[3]  The church acts in its commission with God to restrain sin in the world and to redeem sinners.  It possesses a responsibility for social action as "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world," (Matt. 5:13-14).  It has an evangelistic responsibility to "go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation," (Mark 16:15).

            The mandate for compassionate service, also known as the cultural mandate, carries authority and responsibility to care for all creation and to maintain order, peace and justice in the world.[4]  It is good works with redeeming value, whether directed toward individuals or to society in general.  It stems from a Christ-like compassion so that the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the sick are healed, the oppressed are liberated, the ignorant are educated, and the estranged are reconciled.  Despite resistance by a secular world, this mandate fulfills God's standards of grace, righteousness and human dignity.

    [1]Roger E. Hedlund, The Mission of the Church in the World (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991), 73.
    [2]John R.W. Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), 24.
    [3]C. Norman Kraus, ed., Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1980), 23.
    [4]Lausanne Covenant, International Congress of World Evangelization, Lausanne, Switzerland, July 1974, para. 5.

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