The Church has a (com)mission with both internal and external aspects. Internally, the Church (and our local churches) must be focused on faith formation.
The Mission of the Church (Part 2 of 3)
This post is the second of three blog posts in a series on the mission of the Church (Body of Christ) and therefore what should be the missions of our churches (local congregations). Last week, I reflected briefly on what the Church is and why it exists. (You can also check out our first summer series on biblical justice.)
Being and Doing
As I mentioned in the last post, the Church exists because God wills it and gives us the Holy Spirit to unite us into the universal Body of Christ. I also said that church is not just something we do, but something we are.
The being is both simple and complex. In the simplest terms, the Church is a collection of people forgiven and reconciled to God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and made beloved children of God. This is us in relation to what God has done for us and not anything we have done.
But that is not the subject of this post.
Inside and Outside
My subject today is on what the Church is meant to do. The mission (or commission if you want) that God has assigned to us. We can see this most directly in what Jesus has told his disciples:
“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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”Matthew 28:19-20
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8
There is a very clear outward direction to these commissions (the subject of next week’s post). But, both implicitly and explicitly, there is also an inward component of this.
The Inside Job
The Church (church) is a group of people. This means that there is an inside and outside (though deciding the location of that line is problematic, as I discussed in one of last summer’s series on Insiders and Outsiders). The Church’s purpose on the inside is in “making disciples” and “teaching,” that is, faith formation.
As you see here, my definition of faith formation is quite broad and encompasses way more than Christian education (though that is a critical piece). Faith formation not only builds up each individual disciple, but it builds up the Body of Christ.
A portion of this “inside job” is to equip disciples for the outward mission of the church: spreading the kingdom of God. But it is also part of the being of the Church. It is not just about preparing us for the “real” mission of going. The inward aspect of faith formation is also to help us be the Church.
Even related to the outward mission, it is not just unidirectional. Not only does faith formation lead to spreading the kingdom, but the acts of spreading the kingdom leads to more faith formation. That’s why it is “every action, experience, or relationship.”
A Church Checklist
Now we get to the practical part. How does the mission of your local congregation relate to the overall mission of the Church? We’ll finish this list next week, but here are some places to start:
- Look at each “thing” (event, group, ministry, committee) your congregation does, preferably with other people. You can also narrow this down to just one “thing” that you are a part of.
- Ask yourself: how does this contribute to faith formation? How does it create or encourage actions, experiences, or relationships that nurture and shape faith?
- What changes can we make so that this is more effective at faith formation?
Please note that some ministries are directly faith formational (like Sunday school or worship), while others are indirect (like the building committee or church council). The indirect faith formational ministries help make the direct ministries happen.
Blessings to you as you both evaluated and do your ministry,
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
VBS, Summer, and 2022-2023 Faith Formation Resources
At Spirit & Truth Publishing, we have many resources for your faith formation needs:
- Learning Together: Five-lesson topical units for VBS, Sunday school, children, and intergenerational classes.
- Resources for the Narrative Lectionary (products for all ages)
- Resource for the Revised Common Lectionary (intergenerational classroom)
- Cross+Generational Confirmation
- Worship and Liturgy Education