How Churches can Live out their Mission

Just about every secular organization has some sort of mission statement. They are usually framed and hanging on a wall or printed in their internal documents. A mission statement is a phrase that defines the aim and purpose of the organization. It answers the questions, “What do we value? Why do we exist?” 

God has given the church a mission as well. While there are literally thousands of mission statements floating around churches, most are tied (or should be) to Matthew 28:19-20, which says, 

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 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.” 

I have never encountered a church that disagreed with this passage as the foundation of the mission. However, many churches struggle with living out the mission.

What does it really mean for a church to live out their mission? How can we measure that? One of my favorite scriptures that really drills into mission is John 20:22. In this passage, Jesus, recently resurrected, meets Peter and John. He says to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” The word send[ing] is from the Greek word, pempo, which means “to dispatch with orderly motion; to send on a temporary errand.” I believe this really helps us understand what is necessary for churches to live out their mission. 

The Value of Orderly Motion

I love this picture. Mission with an orderly motion. Jesus is teaching us that living out our mission requires motion; not just any motion, but planned, strategic, orderly motion. Jesus Himself demonstrated this over and over when He was living out His mission. He always had strategy and order (John 4:1-42, Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:7) including His crucifixion and resurrection. 

The big idea here is, vision and strategy are required in order for mission to be set in motion. We see evidence of this in the life of the early church.

Acts 2:42-47: Strategy of Church Growth

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity, all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Acts 15:24-29: Strategy to reach the Gentiles 

“We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”

Acts 16:1-5: Evangelism and Ecouragement Strategy
"Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek. Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day."

2 Timothy 2:102- Leadership Strategy

"Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others."

The mission of the early church was the same as ours. They existed to reach people for Jesus. It was their planning and action that brought the mission to life. They didn't simply know the mission, they embraced it and lived it out!

The Urgency of the Temporary Errand 

Looking back again at John 20:22, Jesus basically said, ‘My Father sent me on a temporary mission. I have completed it. Now I’m sending you on a temporary mission.’ Jesus is teaching the church that we too are on a temporary mission. It is temporary for two reasons. 1) Jesus will eventually return; and/or 2) we will eventually die. The church doesn’t have time to be complacent. When I read the sentence, “…I am sending you”, I sense an urgency in the language that reflect’s the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, 

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you,” indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation! 

As a pastor, one of your greatest responsibilities is to lead your church to live out the church's mission. Mission happens when there is Spirit-led planning that is followed with strategy and action. 

At the Unstuck Group, we have the privilege to help facilitate planning retreats that enable teams to build plans that will impact people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. CLICK HERE to learn more! 


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