globe-176x176Christopher Wright, Laidlaw College, March 4th 2013. Click here to view the full message.

Where should we start? There is a problem with starting from our perspective i.e. What do people really need? Answers become therapeutic and we end up in a debate around evangelism versus social action. Recently discussions have centred around saying we need to be more missional. This raises questions about the church. Isn’t the church meant to be missional anyway and what is mission? Is everything mission? Wright suggests we start with God and God’s mission in the world and from there we can see what we as a church are to be about.

The mission of God is seen in Eph 1:9-10. This is the great cosmic will of God.

This is highlighted in the Cape Town Commitment 1.10

The whole Bible reveals the mission of God to bring all things in heaven and earth into unity under Christ, reconciling them through the blood of his cross.

The Anglicans talk of the five marks of mission as they sought to answer the question of what this means for us?

They suggest evangelism, teaching, compassion, justice and creation care, all centred around the Lordship of Christ. Wright narrows this into three areas with new headings:

Evangelism and teaching- building the church

Justice and compassion- serving society

Creation- caring for creation (Gen 1-2)

The great commission doesn’t say just go and evangelise, it says go, make disciples, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you (here is the moral teaching of Jesus- compassion/ justice/ care for creation). Jesus is Lord of the church and that is why we should do this. If we exist for his glory we will.

There is a triple focus that the mission of God addresses: individual persons, society and culture, and creation. All these are broken and suffer because of sin; all three are included in the redeeming love and mission of God; all three must be part of the mission of God’s people.

Cape Town Commitment 1:7

We share God's passion for his world, loving all that God has made, rejoicing in God's providence and justice throughout his creation, proclaiming the good news to all creation and all nations, and longing for the day when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

  1. Building the Church

Make disciples, baptising them… and teaching them.

Evangelism:  Gospelling the good news of what God has promised and accomplished through Christ.

False holism has two wrong ideas: holistic mission is everything to do with mission except evangelism or everything to do with mission with evangelism added on with no integration. The message of the gospel however is central.

Integral mission means integrating all dimensions of our mission around the central hub of evangelism which is driven by the ‘engine’ of the gospel- what God has done in Christ to save the world. CTC 1.10

We commit ourselves to the integral and dynamic exercise of all dimensions of mission to which God calls his Church.

  • God commands us to make known to all nations the truth of God's revelation and the gospel of God's saving grace through Jesus Christ, calling all people to repentance, faith, baptism and obedient discipleship.
  • God commands us to reflect his own character through compassionate care for the needy, and to demonstrate the values and the power of the kingdom of God in striving for justice and peace and in caring for God's creation.

Teaching and discipling.

Theological education is part of mission. The OT is the oldest and longest programme of theological education. Jesus spent three years teaching his disciples. We note Paul’s personal example in Ephesus, his mission team of Timothy, Titus and Apollos. His purpose is seen in 1 Cor 3:5-9. His goal- maturity in Christ (Col 1:9-11, 28).

  1. Serving Society

You may ask where this is in the great commission. It comes in the part that says ‘teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’. Wright explains how this has echoes of Deuteronomy 10:12-19 where Moses calls the people to be like God in compassion and justice for the needy. See also Matthew 5:6; 6:33; Matt 23:23- justice, mercy, faithfulness. Micah 6:8- ‘do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God’.

Who are we and what are we here for? We need to discover who we are first.

Gen 18:19 ‘walking in the way of the Lord doing righteousness and justice’ (Isa 58:7-8,10)

The apostles and the early church were commanded to obey the teaching of Jesus as well as preaching the gospel about Jesus. Acts 4:32-28 (cf.  Deut 15:4); Gal 2:10 (remember the poor); Titus (doing good 8 times); James 2:14-17 (faith and works).

  1. Caring for Creation

‘All authority has been given’. Jesus is Lord of creation. Genesis begins with a new earth and heavens and Revelation ends with a new heaven and earth. Matt 28:18: Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth (all of creation), Deut 4:39.

Colossians 1:15-20. The whole universe is created by and for Christ, sustained by Christ, and redeemed by Christ (cf also John 1, Heb 1). We cannot separate our personal submission to Christ from our use of the earth since it is his property.

Why is this weak or neglected as a teaching?

The Bible begins and ends with creation (Genesis 1-2; Rev 21-22)- Goodness of creation, glory of creation, goal of creation.

Final statements

God’s whole mission is for God’s whole church. But everybody can’t do everything. Everybody should be intentional about something.

The whole churches mission includes every church member, but we have different callings and sendings.

Every member mission includes the whole of life. Jesus is Lord of all.

What does Wright’s biblical description of mission mean for us in terms of our understanding and practice of mission?

Sermon notes by Russell Thorp, GC3 Missions Director. For more interaction email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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