Each of us have a few things that we really, really know for sure. Here are several of the things I really, really know.
First, God’s love generates divine mission to seek and save humankind. That love is transformational in that it not only saves but also invites the objects of salvation to participate in bringing the Gospel to the world. For believers, it is miraculous and motivating that the irrepressible momentum of God’s saving work includes the ministry of the called and empowered church.
Second, I know that the church is called to participate in and incarnate God’s saving, missional love for his world. The church finds its unique identity when doing that. However, the church cannot simply be “legislated” into right behavior. God cares about the heart condition of the church, ordaining and enabling the church to know and be an expression of God’s heart, way of salvation, and values to the world.
Third, I really know that godly leaders are to be a catalyst to carry God’s missional heart to the life of the church. Nurturing leaders and laity in their missional role and identity is what a pastor has to do. Relying upon status quo ministry to realize tomorrow’s Spirit-given mission is unrealistic. So the pastor equips lay leaders to step into God’s future. Another way of stating this is that the pastor, in the guiding and empowering of the Holy Spirit, is responsible to lead the church to be more fully what she is called to be - a living expression of God’s missional heart on earth.
I am convinced that any church yielded to complete devotion to God’s redeeming, saving love, will be more faithful and effective in her calling to participate in and embody God’s missional life. Only through participating in and relying upon that which is fully God’s will can the church accomplish that which is fully her God-given assignment.
Of course, I am not offering new ideas. Back in 1950 missiologist Leslie Newbigin, in a convincing effort to anchor God’s mission in divine love and commenting on John 3:16 observes: “In that sentence which every Christian knows and loves, the good news of salvation is briefly expressed. We notice that this act of God sprang from His love for the world.” Newbigin continues, “It was because God loved the world that He gave His Son to be its Savior.”
I really, really know that God is motivated and able to bring to completion His design to save the lost. Further, in Christ’s commandment for the church to be a people of agape love (John 13:34-35) divine ordination and empowerment of the church to exist solely for God’s mission is seen. In the words of 20th century missiologist Michael Goheen, “Mission is first and foremost God’s mission. The primary emphasis is on what God is doing for the restoration of the world. Only then do we consider the mission of the church as it participates in God’s redemptive work.” God’s love generates divine mission to seek and save humankind, and you and I are invited to be God’s partners in this wonderful work.