Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Missionary Nature of the Church

“The Church is by nature missionary to the extent that, if it ceases to be missionary, it has not just failed in one of its tasks, it has ceased being Church.”

~J. Andrew Kirk

Missions is not something that the church DOES - it is something that the Church IS, and if a church stops being missionary than it is betraying its very identity.

Many define the marks of a church as, where the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments are rightly administered, yet the church's missionary nature must be part of this definition.


  1. The Disciples are clearly commanded to go make disciples (Mat 28) and be witnesses to Jesus (Acts 1) and I fully believe that these commands apply to the church in general, not just to the Disciples. I also believe the church is missional by its very nature, yet I struggle to find clear Scripture that supports this claim.

    - Laura

    In your studying and thinking about Scripture, what biblical support have you discovered.?

  2. Yes, I also believe that the church is a missionary body in the world, though I am a little hesitant to begin using the word "missional" because - in a sense - if everything becomes missions, then nothing becomes missions. It is good that "missional" churches are focusing on social justice, racial reconciliation, the arts, but "discipling the Nations" often gets lost behind all of these other 1,000 task if everything without distinction is "missions" for a church.

    There is no comma in Epheasians 4:11, and I think that it is the whole church's job in the work of evangelism - each in one's own own station in life. Every Christian has a ministry of some sort and we are all to be lights. This seems to be a general theme in many parts of Scripture as well, that we are God's light in the world and the salt of the earth (and not just an ordained few).

    This is proof of sorts that we, as the church, are "missional by nature."

    The best way to summarize I guess is this: The church was blessed to be a blessing (Abrahamic promise, plus Psalm 67) and a healthy church within is one whose focus is without, i.e., externally focused. And as a church becomes externally focused, stewardship demands that we seek out those places and peoples in the world most bereft of the Gospel and send cross-cultural missionaries. This struggle to fill the whole earth with God's glory is a whole-body-of-Christ activity, each one of as sharing the load.

  3. I absolutely agree with the need to obey Christ and disciple the nations--and that this is the ministry of every Christian (in some way or another). I also believe that the church is part of God's mission and, as such, has a missionary task as long as it is in the world.

    I guess what sticks a bit in agreeing that the church is missionary by nature, is that nature is what we are: it is something that continues through time and into eternity. I cannot wrap my head around how the church will be missionary in eternity.

    Any thoughts?

    - Laura

    PS: thanks for visiting my blog.

  4. I think worship and misions are two sides of the same coin - of exalting our Lord and expressing His glory throughout the whole universe.

    The Church now is the Church militant, soon it will be the Church triumphant. In this regard, the nature of the Church will change.

    So I have no problems in saying that the nature of the church is declaring and showing forth the Glory of God; the Church militant shows forth His glory in part by spreading it, but the Church Triumphant has nothing more to spread because His Glory will be apparent to the very edges of the universe, and the Church Triumphant will only declare this already-known glory.

    So, seeing it this way, our chief end is glorifying God; and this means that missions now and worship later are intrinsic parts of the very nature of the Church - which is the impetus we have to maximally declare God's glory to the fullest extent possible.

    Of course, my answer begs the question then of whether or not missions and worship are two things or two sides of the one coin of declaring God's glory. So, would it be better then to say that worship is the nature of the church, and missions is a sub-category of worship, because we are trying to glorify Him by spreading His glory, or that missions and worship are two separate things and one (missions) will cease at the Last Day?