Thursday, January 05, 2006

Missional God

Tall Skinny Kiwi has a nice little blurb on thinking of God missionally:
I get to kick off the weekend with this topic - the Missio Dei or mission of God. The concept is that mission is not a program of the church but rather an attribute of God. Mission comes first from the heart of God and we are caught up in it rather than initiating it. Mission is primarily the work of God and we participate with God in what He is doing.

Missio Dei sees our mission as stemming from the Triune God:
The Father sends the Son,
the Father and the Son send the Spirit
The Father and and Son and the Spirit send the church. into the world.

As the Father sent me, so I send you. (Jesus)
Our Christology influences our missiology which influences our ecclesiology.

This sounds a lot like what I've said over here:
At the heart of our confession, then, lies a central truth: God is a missional God – his work culminates in Christ, Christ’s work culminates in the church, and the church’s work culminates in worship and mission. From this basic recognition, we can make several key observations:
  • God, not man, builds his church – Church planting is not simply a matter of human effort or intention – this is something God is doing. It is his work (cf. Acts 13-14, where we repeatedly see God actively intervening to build his church: 13:2, 4, 9, 48, 52; 14:1, 3, 27).
  • God has been building it from the beginning – everything God was doing in the OT finds its fulfillment in Jesus. Christ is the crux of the entire biblical story (cf. Gen 3:15, 12:2-3; 2 Sam 7:13; Acts 13:32-33). The heart of the gospel is that Jesus fulfills all of God’s promises. Only through Christ can we be reconciled to God, not because of what we do, but because of what the resurrected Christ has done and continues to do on our behalf.
  • God has a passion for the lost – Jesus views his own work in terms of saving the lost and building his church. Thus Christ is a missional Messiah (cf. Luke 19:10; John 4:1-43; Mt 16:18; 1 Pe 2:6-7).
  • The church is at the center of God’s redemptive plan – In Eph 3:6-11, Paul tells us that the church is the climax of God’s eternal purpose, created to manifest the mystery of the gospel to the Gentiles. In other words, the church is God’s means for mission. The church exists to model the gospel – in word, deed, worship, and mission – to unbelievers, and so invite them to participate in the kingdom as well.
In light of these principles, we offer two core convictions for church planting:
  1. First, we want to plant churches that reach the unchurched – We desire this because God has a heart for the lost, he commands us to go, and this is where the harvest is ripe. Our aim is not simply to establish a “reformed church,” or to gather people who are already Christians - neither of these are bad; but they aren't at the heart of what the church is all about, either. We must never lose sight of the fact that our calling is to bring the gospel to people who have rejected God so that the gospel may redeem both us and our culture.

  2. Second, we want to plant churches that plant more churches – We believe that mission must be part of the fabric of the church; the goal of our church plants is not to become self-sufficient and acquire a building – it is to call people (both unbelievers and believers) to continual faith in Christ, to lead them in true worship of God, to equip them for service in the church and for life in the culture, and to send them missionally back to the unchurched. While every member of the body has different gifts and abilities, we assert that all Christians are called to serve and witness and participate in mission, just as all are called to believe and worship.
So mission exists because worship doesn’t. Conversely, true worship must include mission.
To me, this is very much in line with the EM's passion for mission, although I may go a bit further than some of them might in terms of drawing theological conclusions. I think the EMers are definitely moving in the right direction here, although I would like to see them think a little more deeply about the ecclesiological implications of "mission."

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