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We believe that the church is called to proclaim
and to be a sign of the kingdom of God. Christ has commissioned the church
to be his witnesses, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them,
and teaching them to observe all things he has commanded.1
In his mission of preaching, teaching, and healing, Jesus announced,
"The kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."2
After his death and resurrection, Jesus commissioned his disciples, saying,
"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. . . . Receive
the Holy Spirit."3
Empowered by that Spirit, we continue Jesus' ministry of gathering the
new people of God, who acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior.
The church is called to witness to the reign of Christ by embodying
Jesus' way in its own life and patterning itself after the reign of God.
Thus it shows the world a sample of life under the lordship of Christ.
By its life, the church is to be a city on a hill, a light to the nations,4
testifying to the power of the resurrection by a way of life different
from the societies around it.
The church is also to give witness by proclaiming the reign of God in
word and deed. The church is to seek the lost, call for repentance, announce
salvation from sin, proclaim the gospel of peace, set free the oppressed,
pray for righteousness and justice, serve as Jesus did, and without coercion
urge all people to become part of the people of God. The church is called
to be a channel of God's healing, which may include anointing with oil.5
Even at the risk of suffering and death, the love of Christ compels faithful
witnesses to testify for their Savior.6
Such witness is a response to Jesus' call to make disciples. As they
are welcomed and incorporated into the church, new Christians learn to
participate in the church's worship, in its fellowship, education, mutual
aid, decision making, service, and continuing mission.7
New believers also help the church to learn new dimensions of its mission.8
God calls the church to direct its mission to people from all nations
and ethnic backgrounds. Jesus commissioned his disciples to be his witnesses
in "Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."9
The apostle Paul preached to the Gentile nations. The church today is
also called to witness to people of every culture, ethnicity, or nationality.
The mission of the church does not require the protection of any nation
or empire. Christians are strangers and aliens within all cultures. Yet
the church itself is God's nation, encompassing people who have come from
every tribe and nation. Indeed, its mission is to reconcile differing
groups, creating one new humanity10
and providing a preview of that day when all the nations shall stream
to the mountain of the Lord and be at peace.11
Christ has commissioned the church to continue his mission. Missionaries
and others with the gift of evangelism do not function independently,
but as representatives of Christ and the church. The commissions by
Jesus to his disciples (recorded in Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-18;
Luke 24:45-49; John 20:21-22; and Acts 1:8) are given through the
apostles to the community as a whole.
The mission of the church involves both word and deed, evangelism
and service, proclaiming Christ's message and demonstrating, by the
life of the church, the nature of the new creation in Christ. Neither
word alone nor deed alone is sufficient for mission. Word explains
deed, and deed authenticates word.
In the ministry of Jesus, healing (in body and in spirit) and salvation
are closely related. The same Greek word is used in the New Testament
for healing and salvation. Jesus' words both to those whose sins were
forgiven and to those who were healed were, "Your faith has saved
you [made you well]; go in peace." (Compare Luke 7:50 and 8:48, where
the same Greek words are used, but the NIV and NRSV use different
English words.) The church continues Jesus' ministry of healing. The
church may be a channel for healing through the service of prayer
and anointing with oil.
Mission includes peace and evangelism. Peace is an integral part
of the content of the church's message (Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:17;
6:15). Peace also describes the context of evangelism (John 20:21-22).
The power of gospel is so strong and God's mercy is so wide that it
is possible for any person to repent and be saved. No enemy is so
evil as to be beyond God's love. The church lives and preaches reconciliation
boldly, yet without coercion. The missionary church chooses to suffer
rather than to force its way. In the language of the New Testament,
the word for witness is the same as the word for martyr.
The church is called to live as an alternative culture within the
surrounding society. Thus, the church is involved in cross-cultural
mission whether it reaches out to people of the majority culture,
to people of minority cultures within the society, or to various cultural
groups in other countries. The church lives within the dominant culture,
yet is called to challenge that culture's myths and assumptions when
they conflict with Christian faith. Those cultural myths include individualism,
materialism, militarism, nationalism, racism, sexism, and a world
view which denies the reality of anything beyond the grasp of the
five senses and reason.
In its mission, the church claims Jesus Christ as the only Savior
of the world (Acts 4:12). Some people feel that all ways to God are
equally valid and that mission work by its very nature is intolerant
and coercive. However, faithful witness to Christ is non coercive;
it does not force our point of view on anyone. It recognizes that
God is not left without a witness anywhere (Acts 10:35; 14:17; 17:22-31;
Romans 1:19-20; 2:14-16). It testifies to Christ's work in our lives
and invites others to know him, follow him, and become part of his
body. We engage in mission because of our love and concern for people
and because the love of Christ urges us on. We understand also that
mission helps us grow in our understanding of the gospel, just as
the early church's mission to the Gentiles helped it understand the
gospel in new ways.
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- Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19-20.
- Mark 1:15.
- John 20:21-22; Acts 10:36.
- Matthew 5:13-16; Isaiah 42:6.
- Mark 6:13; James 5:14-15.
- 2 Corinthians 5:14.
- Acts 2:41-47.
- Acts 10; 15.
- Acts 1:8.
- Ephesians 2:15-16.
- Isaiah 2:2-4.