Recently I hosted a conversation with our Presbytery Standing Committee about mission. What does mission mean to us, and more importantly, for our churches? For the exercise I collected a bunch of quotes about mission from a range of Christian writers. Here are some of them, quoted through fair use permissions.
The first question the church needs to ask is how has God called us to witness in this particular locality and society, at this particular point in time? … The second question then is how do we know this? The third question is how do we, as an educative, witnessing community, move towards God’s mission purpose for us?
Intentional congregations are marked by mobility, choice, risk, reflexivity and reflection. They think about what they do and why they do it in relation to their own history, their cultural context, the larger Christian story found in Scripture and liturgy, and
in line with the longer traditions of Christian faith.
In addition to thinking about their practices, they reflexively engage practices that best foster their sense of identity and mission.
Diana Butler Bass
Mission is more like an exercise in artistic creativity than
a logical argument or a sociological experiment.
The church’s calling is to show something: like those characters in the Gospel of John, our message is always simply, ‘Come and see!’ … The church has a dual role:
our mission is both to see and to show. Transfixed by the sight of Christ’s creative genius in action, we call others
to come and see. We participate in Christ’s creativity through our own creative witness.
It is common to think of the church as the agent of mission. The role of the church as agent is to provide the resources, training, and support to enable lay people to bring their faith into the economic, social. and political spheres of
the ‘real’ world. The locus of mission is the worshipping and witnessing congregation. It is the church, not just the pastor, that celebrates, embodies, and announces the advent
of God’s new world—a new social order—in a vibrant
and open communal life of commitment, love, learning, purpose, meaning, and service.
Mission spirituality cannot exist without authentic discipleship, a discipleship, a path, that specifically addresses mission and that necessitates mission
as an integral part of the path.
Daryl Balia and Kirsteen Kim
Mission is not primarily an activity of the church,
but an attribute of God. God is a missionary God. … Mission is thereby seen as a movement
from God to the world; the church is viewed
as an instrument for that mission.
The Basis did not seek to define what the church is, but to describe the church in terms of what it does in response to the message of Christ.
The church works for reconciliation and … offers itself as an instrument in the hands of Christ.
Forming mature disciples of Jesus Christ is not primarily an internal aim of the church but an integral aspect, a core praxis, of its participation
in God’s mission. Discipleship is an outcome
of Christian formation and education,
not a replacement for them.