Missio Dei Part 1: The Church, Intentionally on Mission

Posted on 01/08/2007


This past week and all this week I am sitting in the library at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; attempting to get a big portion of writing done for my doctoral program.  I have been completely away from the blogs.  I am going to post some of the work I have been doing. 

 Recovering Our Mission


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3.16).  This verse is possibly the most well-known and beloved verses of the entire Bible.  Christ has taught us that God cares about the eternal destiny of people so much that He “sent” His son on a mission to redeem them.  This truth is called the missio Dei; the mission of God.  Through the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ, God has made a way for all people to have abundant and eternal life, (John 10.10, 14.1-6). 

            The Bible record is also consistent and clear in its recording of the fact that Christ Jesus taught His followers that they also were to be a missionary people.  The missionary God sent Christ Jesus as a missionary to redeem the world.  The missionary Christ has in turn left all who are His people with the mission of going into the world to make disciples; Christ-followers (Matthew 28.18-20). 

            The typical Christian needs to better understand the mission of God, the mission of Christ, and the subsequent mission of the church of which they consist.  There is a great need to recapture a realization and understanding of the role that each Christian is called to have in fulfilling the mission of the Church.  The pastors and church staff are not the only ones who are called to be on mission for Christ.  In order for a church to have its greatest impact for the cause of Christ, it must recapture the vision of being a community of people who are joining the mission of Christ to redeem a lost people for Himself.  Evangelism must become more than just a ministry of the church and be recognized as its preeminent mission.  Evangelism must become more than just an activity of certain trained or gifted people in the church and be recognized as the ongoing mission that every Christian is empowered to participate in

            The understanding that the church is called to be “missional” is a concept that is garnering much attention in
America.  Jim Thomas has observed that:

                            On the one hand, missional hints at moving from church as a “club” for Christians, to church as Christ’s         body, sent by God to reconcile the world to Himself. On the other hand, missional means moving from missions as an activity in which a few Christians are sent to foreign countries to convert unbelievers, to mission as God’s most basic purpose, intended for all believers.[1]           

           Various studies reveal that America is increasingly becoming an unchurched mission field.  The percentage of people who identified themselves as Christians has dropped 9 percent from 1990 to 2001.  George Barna has concluded that, “Since 1991, the adult population in the United States has grown by 15%.  During that same period, the number of adults who do not attend church has nearly doubled, rising from 39 million to 75 million—a 92% increase.”[2] 

           If the mission of the church is to reach this country for Jesus, the statistics reveal we are losing ground.  The condition of the typical church has much to do with the fact that Christianity is waning in influence in America.  Sadly it is commonly reported that 80 percent of churches or either plateaued or declining.  The majority of Christians in our churches do not share their faith with others.  They are not engaged in the mission that has been left to us by our Lord.  How true it is that evangelism is one of the highest values in the church but possibly one of the least practiced.[4] 

          The church needs to remember its gospel-message and that fact that its ultimate mission is to make known to the world this good news.  In light of statistics that reveal the spiritual condition of our nation, it is appropriate for the church to begin to consider itself as a missionary entity and function accordingly.   In this chapter I will address the Scriptural foundation for understanding that the heart of every church must be its connection to the mission of God.  First we will look at the mission of God and then examine the subsequent mission of the church. Then we will examine the strategy and method that Jesus used to make disciples and reveal its relevance for the church today.   

[1] Ed Stetzer & David Putman, Breaking the Missional Code (
Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006) 8.

[2] George Barna, http://www.barna.org 

[3] Stetzer &Putman, Breaking the Missional Code, 17.  

[4] Mark Mittelberg, Building a Contagious Church, (
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), 20.