Why does the body of Christ exist? What is our mission? Defining our mission is crucial if we are to be focused and strategic in accomplishing the tasks given to us by our God.
The Lord gave His mission to the church in the passages of Scripture defined as the Great Commission. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). In the book of Acts, Jesus goes further and says, “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8b). These passages give us a clear direction. The church is to witness, preach, teach, baptize, and serve with the purpose of making disciples for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Through the years, Christians have often disagreed on our primary task. Some in the church argue that social justice should be our main concern. Others argue that reaching people for the Gospel is our primary concern. I would argue that Jesus clarifys this for us in the Great Commission. Our task is to make disciples and bring people to the hope that can only be found in a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. This must be at the heart of all that we do as the church.
With all this being said, does this mean as believers that we have no concern for feeding the hungry, caring for AIDS orphans, or rescuing human trafficking victims? Does it mean that we focus solely on sharing the Gospel with no involvement in social issues? Again, I would argue that Jesus clarifys this in the Great Commission. Jesus said the church is to make disciples teaching them to observe all that He has commanded us.
In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked, “‘Which is the greatest commandment?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” To be a disciple, Jesus Christ clearly calls us to have an absolute love for God, and He further calls us to express caring love for our neighbors. Our calling is not “either or,” but must always be “both and.” As His disciples, we are to fulfill the Great Commisssion and the Great Commandment.
Our mission as the church must be:
- Multi-faceted – When we consider the scope of lostness around us, we cannot afford to limit ourselves in exploring every possible way to proclaim Christ to the nations. Compassionate ministry demonstrates the love of Christ, but also opens doors for the Gospel.
- All-encompassing – We must start by making disciples in our Jerusalem, but our witness can never end there. Our calling is to the nations, and our mission will not be complete until every corner of our globe hears of Christ.
- Cooperative – The church must find ways to work together and share cooperatively if we are to reach our world. No single church has the resources to reach the world alone. The Cooperative Program remains as our best plan to accomplish this incredible task. We are stronger together than alone.
- Christ-centered – The Gospel is the hope for our world. We must have compassion for the hungry, poor, widow, and orphan. But, without Christ there is no hope for tomorrow. Sharing the Gospel must always be central to all that we are about.
Our mission is and will always be to make disciples as we fulfill both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.