Category: (6) What should be the mission of the church?


According to the Bible, every Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift to use in service to the body of Christ. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10–11; compare Ephesians 4:11–16). So, ideally, the first step in determining how to serve in the church is for every believer to discover what his/her spiritual gifts are. Usually, the gifts are related to areas in our lives which unmask our greatest strengths—administration, teaching, hospitality, etc. (see Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, 28).

There is a difference between the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–13) and the local church Christians attend for corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25). But there is no difference in how Christians ought to use their spiritual gifts, because serving God is a twenty-four-hour proposition, not a Sunday-only enterprise. For example, if one has the gift of exhortation (encouraging people to be all God desires), the blessing of the gift should not be limited to the local body of believers. All Christians everywhere should be serving God in their local churches and looking for opportunities to serve outside the walls of a church building (2 Corinthians 9:12–13). It may be difficult to discover which spiritual gift(s) God has bestowed, but it’s better to serve anywhere there is a need than nowhere at all (Romans 12:11). Often, the discovery of gifts becomes more clear in the doing—as we serve in various jobs, we learn what we are good at and what we have a heart for (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Every local congregation has more needs than willing workers; this was true in Christ’s day and is still true today (Matthew 9:37). It’s never a problem to find a need in the local church. From evangelizing the community (which all Christians are called to do, Mark 16:15) to cleaning the bathrooms, there is always plenty of work to be done. It is good to inquire of the church leadership. Have a conversation with the pastor and elders about what jobs are open and how they may or may not be suited for you.

Here are a few examples of positions of service in local congregations:
• Sunday School and Bible study teachers (once vetted)
• Children and youth leaders
• Administrators
• Janitors and maintenance workers to upkeep the building and grounds
• Transportation workers for those unable to drive or for children
• Outreach workers
• Choir members and/or gifted vocalists
• Musicians
• Music directors, song leaders, etc.

Every member of every church should be serving in some way, and every member of every church should also not forget the most important way to serve one another, which is by love (Galatians 5:14). Serving one another by love may mean offering to babysit while a young couple has a night out, preparing a meal for a family struck by illness, visiting an elderly widow who can’t get out of the house, or just taking time to pick up a phone and say, “I was thinking about you today.” Christians may busy themselves in tasks of service like the ones listed above, but endless performing, if there is no love involved, is meaningless (1 Corinthians 13:1–3). As we go about serving God and others, let us do so with a spirit of humbleness and brotherly love (Philippians 2:1–4).

Any service that reflects Jesus’ love is “Christian service.” From giving a cup of water (Mark 9:41) to dying for someone (John 15:13), there are as many types of Christian service as there are needs in the world. Very few involve activity within the four walls of the church.

The Bible gives some specific examples of Christian service: show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2), remember those in prison (Matthew 25:36), provide for the needy (Matthew 25:35), and mentor others (Titus 2:2-8). Some examples speak to our day-to-day living: care for children (Matthew 18:5), tend families (Titus 2:5), treat employees fairly (Colossians 4:1), deal honestly with customers (Leviticus 19:36), and be diligent with employers’ resources (Matthew 25:14-30). As long as the act is done “in Jesus’ name”—that is, it is motivated by the love of Jesus—it is Christian service.

There are thousands of organizations outside the church committed to serving others. Homeless shelters, housing builders, and food banks always need volunteers and donations. Internationally, organizations like Compassion International provide food, clothing, and education for children in sometimes dangerous situations. Other ministries provide water, micro-loans, or resources such as farm animals to enable the child’s family to generate their own income.

The world outside the walls of the church offers many opportunities for those specifically educated in theology. Chaplains serve hospitals, military bases, and shipping ports. Foreign missionaries travel overseas to plant churches and train indigenous pastors. Parachurch ministries provide biblical guidance for families and others in need. And internet ministries like Got Questions are always in need of those who can explain the truth of God in a loving, easy-to-understand way.

The world is in desperate need of Christians willing to show the love of Christ through their actions. Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love others—not sentimentally, but tangibly. Every action performed out of kindness, powered by the understanding of Christ and His love, is Christian service.

Christian missions is following Christ’s call: sharing the Gospel with the lost world through God’s wisdom and strength.

Christian missions is obeying Christ
After Christ’s death and resurrection, He commanded the disciples to share the Gospel, the message of His redemption. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

This Great Commission applies to Christians today. Rather than a burden, obeying His call brings joy and reward in heaven. We should fulfill our mission not out of duty but love: “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. . . . Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

God could convert everyone using a blinding light and the voice of Christ as He did with the apostle Paul. Instead, He gives Christians the mission of reconciliation (Acts 1:8-9). He works through us, calling sinners to turn to Christ in repentance and faith.

Christian missions is sharing Christ
Our mission is proclaiming Christ as the only way to abundant, eternal life. Whom do we tell? Jesus made it clear that Christians are to reach out to “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Instead of countries, he was referring to people groups, those ethnic cultures without a Gospel witness.

Christian missions, however, is not limited to overseas ministry. While believers should faithfully support those who go to the unreached, all Christians have the mission to share Christ on the home field with family, friends, coworkers, and the community.

The Christian mission of sharing Christ does not end with a sinner’s salvation. The commission was to make disciples – not immature believers. Thus, Christian missions involves not only evangelism but also discipleship.

Christian missions is relying on Christ
Sharing the Gospel humbly, boldly, and passionately is our Christian mission. But we cannot do it alone. While our mission is sharing Christ, the power and results come from the Lord. He gives us the wisdom, strength, and desire to witness! Through our witness, He works repentance and faith in the sinner’s heart (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).

Although it is God’s work, Christians are responsible to understand the Gospel and have a strong relationship with Christ. Such a relationship guards them from hypocrisy. “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:15-16). Jesus assured that suffering would accompany missions, but God uses it for good.

In sum, Christian missions is obeying Christ, sharing Christ, and relying on Christ. Specifically, God sends missionaries through the support of the church to the unreached. All Christians, however, have the mission of reconciliation. The Lord works through them to rescue the lost. What greater mission can one answer?

Let’s get it right: “There’s but One Church.”

The church is a creation of God (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 17; 15:9), founded and owned by Jesus Christ—“I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18)—and directed and energized by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:5–27; Romans 12:4–5). Therefore, it is the church’s joy to look to God to explain His design for the church and His mission for it. God’s mission for the church proves to have several parts. First we’ll list them, then summarize them:

1. The mission of the church is to make disciples. Just before Jesus returned to heaven, He commissioned His disciples this way: “Going into all the world, make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you” (literal translation of Matthew 28:19–20a). A disciple is a follower, someone who attaches himself to his leader. Therefore, we reason, Jesus sent the church on its mission to acquaint people in every place with Himself. As the church makes disciples, people can admire, worship, trust, follow, and obey Jesus as their Savior and Lord. The church’s members, having become enamored of Jesus Christ, assemble around Him as Master, Leader, Savior, and Friend. Our joyful mission is to put Him on display to every nation. (see: Great CommissionDiscipleship)

2. The mission of the church is to glorify Christ. Paul wrote, “In Christ we were also chosen … in order that we … might be for the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11–12). Part of God’s purpose for the church is to exalt Jesus Christ by the way that the church lives and by what it does. Christ designed His church to represent His supernatural, life-saving work to the world. In His church, Christ shows to the world what a freed and forgiven people can be—people who are satisfied with God as the result of Christ’s joyful, triumphant self-sacrifice. He has planned the church’s values to be His values. He expects its lifestyle to reflect His character (2 Corinthians 6:14—7:1; Ephesians 5:23–32; Colossians 1:13, 18; 1 Timothy 3:15). As the moon reflects the sun, so the church is to reflect the glory of God to a dark world.

3. The mission of the church is to build up the saints. The church is to encourage and comfort its individual members (1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 13:11). “There should be no division in the body, but . . . its parts should have equal concern for each other” (2 Corinthians 12:25). Jesus is the chief cornerstone, and the church is likened to a building “joined together and [rising] to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19–22; see also 4:4–25). Jesus Christ designed His Church to showcase God’s family on earth, so that the pagan world can see how God builds His family around Jesus Christ and how that family cares for one another (see Mark 3:35 and John 13:35).

The mission of the church is to know and love Christ so supremely as to represent Him and His values accurately and vividly to the world and serve people’s deepest needs in the way Christ Himself would meet them. As W. C. Robinson says in Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, “Our Lord Jesus Christ is the sun about which the whole mission of the church revolves. Public worship is the encounter of the risen Redeemer with His people; evangelism is calling men to the Savior; publishing the law of God is proclaiming His lordship; Christian nurture is feeding His lambs and disciplining His flock; ministering to the needs of men is continuing the work of the Great Physician.” The church’s mission is to present Jesus Christ to the world, while He presents to the same world His rescuing work in and through His church.