Section 8: The Church
Week 1: The Nature of the Church and It’s Mission
Day 2: The Church Has a Specific Mission
We talked briefly yesterday about what the Church is. The Church exists as the outworking of God’s plan to restore humanity. That’s what the Church is, but what exactly is the Church supposed to do. In 1 Cor. 10:31, Paul says that everything is to be done to the glory of God. “Everything” necessarily includes all that the Church does. So, the overarching mission of the Church needs be understood in terms of glorifying God. But that’s not very specific. Do we get any clearer instructions? As a matter of fact, we do. Just before he returned to heaven, Jesus told his followers:
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matt. 28:19-20).
The specific job God gave the Church is to make disciples. How do we do that though? Well, Jesus gave us an outline. He told us to make disciples by first baptizing them. What does baptism have to do with making disciples? “Baptism is a symbol of the beginning of the Christian life”[i]. Jesus wanted his disciples to make more disciples. To do that, they first needed to convert those who did not believe. The first step in becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is becoming a believer in Jesus Christ. That’s why evangelism is an essential part of the mission of the Church.
However, the task of making a disciple isn’t completed once an unbeliever becomes a believer. Jesus told his disciples to teach new believers to obey everything he had commanded. And Jesus had earlier summarized those commands as loving God with all one’s heart, soul and mind, and loving one’s neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40). All the other commands hang upon those two overarching principles.
When we put these pieces together, we can summarize the mission of the Church in this way:
The mission of the church is to glorify God by leading unbelievers to saving faith and developing these new believers into mature and obedient followers of Christ who increasingly love God and other people.
Make a list of the programs and activities of your church.
How do those programs and activities fit in with the Church’s mission? Could you be doing more? Should you be doing less (i.e., are there programs or activities that should be cut out because they don’t further the mission)?
[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Doctrine, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House (1994), 970.