Pastor Steve: "We don’t have a mission; God has a mission!"
October 2013 newsletter article by Pastor Steve:
Which Came First? No, I am not asking the question about the chicken and the egg. Since October is mission month at Redeemer Covenant Church, I am asking if the church came first or the mission? The order that you place those two words makes all the difference in how you view the expressed and lived out faith in Christ. This was clarified for me in the statement from the book The Missional Church and Denominations by Craig Van Gelder. He writes, "It is not the church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission that has a church in the world. . . . God is on the move and the church is always catching up with him. We join his mission."
In many ways, our traditional manner of thinking puts human beings at the very center, which includes placing not only the individual there but our institutions as well. This does affirm in our thoughts that we are serving God, but we are using ourselves as the starting point. Van Gelder says that we then easily demote “missions” to a corner of our lives because it is so focused on others. The whole time we are doing this, the activities of the church are perfectly justified because they are meeting our own needs.
This is why I am so thankful to be a part of the Evangelical Covenant Church. It’s not that we are doing everything perfectly right, but we understand missional theology. We are actively turning the usual thought that the church has a mission upside down. This call is not to start with ourselves, but with God. We don’t have a mission – God has a mission!
What is God’s mission? Scripture is clear that God’s mission is to reconcile the world to himself through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19). That reconciling mission of God has a church to carry it out to the world. The church exists to serve this world by being a visible expression of God’s mission. Our purpose is to support, sustain, and advance God’s mission in the world no matter what it will take.
When we do not see our neighborhood, the place we work or school we attend as part of God’s mission, we actually miss fully participating in God’s mission in the world. If we do not see that everywhere we go is an opportunity to be agents of God’s effort of reconciliation, we do not live as missional people.
Ever since Genesis chapter 3, God has been expressing his mission to reconcile the world back to himself. Through the pages of Scripture, we find the stories and encounters of those who God called to join in the mission. Even before Christ invited one person to be his disciple, his presence on earth was a sign that the mission was being carried out. Those of us who have faith in God through Christ have been invited to join in that mission and do it through the church.
The leadership of Redeemer Covenant Church has been looking at the best way to carry out the mission of God through our church. We are reminded over and over that this is God’s mission, not our own. The privilege we have is to join the work that Christ accomplished on the cross and be the agents of reconciliation in this generation.
During the month of October, do not think just about missions as “over there” or somewhere else. We are involved in the mission that God has to the world, but that includes our street and neighbors. As Rich Eckart said before a council meeting, “You used to have to look on a map to find missions, now we just look out the window.” That is what the mission has been all along. The church doesn’t have a mission, God’s mission has a church! God’s mission has you!