Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert are right on the money with the title of their first chapter in regards to the topic of mission & the church: A Common Word in Need of a Careful Definition. Not only does the word “mission” need to be redefined, as it has become a common, throw around word, but the understanding of the mission of the church needs to be defined as well as so many local churches, networks, denomonations, etc. have made their own definitions up, whether they are actually biblical or not.
In What Is the Mission of the Church?, DeYoung & Gilbert take this question head-on. Their definition of what is the mission of the church is, “We believe the church is sent into the world to witness to Jesus by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations. This is our task. This is our unique and central calling” (26). I agree wholeheartedly with them. Throughout the book, Gilbert & DeYoung walk through answering questions about what does Jesus send us into the world to do, and helping the readers and Christians to see the mission of the church from a 30,000 foot view of the entire Bible storyline. Without going much farther into all the nuances of each chapter, I want to share some of the more important lines that gripped me from the book:
- “To proclaim the inauguration of the kingdom and all the other blessings of God without telling people how they may become partakers of those blessings is to preach a nongospel” (108).
- “The least of these” is not a blanket statement about the church’s responsibility to meet the needs of all the poor (though we do not want to be indifferent to hurting people). Nor should the phrase be used as a general cover for anything and everything we want to promote under the banner of fighting poverty. What Jesus says is this: if we are too embarassed, too lazy, or too cowardly to support fellow Christians at our doorstep who depend on our assistance and are suffering for the sake of the gospel, we will go to hell. We should not make this passage say anything more or anything less” (165).
- It’s not the church’s responsibility to right every wrong or to meet every need, though we have biblical motivation to do some of both. It is our responsibility, however – our unique mission and plain priority – that this unpopular, impractical gospel message gets told, that neighbors and nations may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, they may have life in his name” (249).
If you or your church is wondering what the mission of the church really is, check out this book. We have come up with so many definitions that are focused many different objections, but bottom line, they are not what Jesus has called the church to do first and foremost. If churches are not proclaiming the name of Jesus above all else, then they are not fulfilling the mission of the church. Get this book today: What is the Mission of the Church?