By Peter Meier | September 15, 2017
On a recent trip, we found ourselves behind one of those long lines of Army vehicles – a convoy!
My normal reaction is to get impatient. Convoys tend to slow down traffic, and I really don’t like to go slower than necessary.
This time, however, my wife’s comment focused my attention in another direction, “It’s like a mighty army, deployed on God’s mission.”
Hmmmm . . .
My mind was quickly engaged. I didn’t even notice the slowdown. These men and women were headed somewhere, on a mission of some sort. They were deployed, sent with a purpose – a mission to accomplish.
How different is that from you and me? Baptized into Christ, we become part of God’s mission force, deployed – purposefully, intentionally, to accomplish God’s mission.
The very word, “mission,” comes from the Latin missio, which comes from the Greek apostello, meaning “to be sent.” Strong’s Concordance defines apostello as “to send away, i.e. commission; (passive) "sent on a defined mission by a superior.” One who is a “missionary” is a “sent one.” Using Strong’s definition, a missionary is one who is sent on a defined mission by a superior.
Hmmmm . . .
The very nature of the church is to be a “sent” or “missionary” entity. The mission is God’s mission, specifically, to reconcile and reclaim lost sinners to Himself and to gather a group of followers (disciples) who will proclaim the Gospel message of God’s reconciliation to those who are not-yet disciples (2 Corinthians 5:19).
The church (all who confess “Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:11) is purposefully sent on God’s mission. God’s intent is that they operate intentionally and purposefully as every-day missionaries in their own unique mission contexts.
The church is more than just a place a person goes to hear the Word preached and taught, to receive the Lord’s Supper and baptism. The church is not merely a vendor of religious goods and services, whose members are customers or consumers. The church is the people of God, deployed – purposefully sent on a defined mission by a Superior. In this case, the Superior is Jesus Himself. Read John 20:21.
The church gathers together, but not for our own sake or as an end in itself. We gather to learn and grow and receive the life-giving gifts of God so that we can be sent out into the world, deployed, as God’s missionary force.
God is the Sender. The mission is His. He has a church (you and me) whom He commissions and purposefully sends as His ambassadors to a people who don’t know, confess, or follow Jesus. He does this because He is love and He wants all people to be saved.
Jesus said to His disciples, and by extension to us, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21). This sending doesn’t mean that we need to travel very far. We have only to step outside our front doors. Sometimes, we don’t even need to go that far. The purposeful sending involves relationships with others, loving and serving and living with our own family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers, as Jesus lived among His family and neighbors. He was purposefully deployed to spend time with them, listening to them, understanding them and loving them – even to death on the cross.
Hmmmm . . . You mean I am called and purposefully deployed by God on His mission? You mean God might use me to gather a group, even to plant a church? You mean God intends that I live and love and act intentionally in such a way as to accomplish His mission?
Here am I. Send me!
Questions for Discussion
1. Do you see yourself as “purposefully deployed” in your own context? What does it mean that the Superior who sends you is God Himself?
2. To whom are you purposefully deployed? Identify at least three people and begin to pray that God would prepare their hearts to receive the Gospel message – and that God would use you to bring it to them. Identify several ways that you could begin (or deepen) a relationship of service and care?
3. Why is it important to see the church both as gathered (around God’s Word and Sacraments) and scattered (purposefully sent)?
4. How has God prepared you for deployment? Is it possible that you could be one whom God has prepared to gather a group of potential disciples? Even to plant a church? How would you begin?
Resources You Can Use
Joining Jesus: Show Me How, Greg Finke. This book is intended to show how Jesus disciples people in the gospels so that you can disciple your children, friends, neighbors or fellow church members to get up, follow Jesus and join him on his mission, too.
Joining Jesus on His Mission, Greg Finke. Simple, powerful and applicable insights show you how to be on mission and recognize where Jesus is already at work in your neighborhoods, workplaces and schools.
Loved and Sent: How Two Words Define Who You Are and Why You Matter, Jeff Cloeter. "I’ve come to know who I am in two words. They guide everything that I believe, think, and do. I am loved by God in Jesus. I am sent by God into the world." –from the author.
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
Center for U.S. Missions – Contact Information
Email us at: | Rev. Dr. Peter Meier, Executive Director; firstname.lastname@example.org | Rev. Eric Wenger, Director of Mission Coaching; email@example.com | Kathy Meier, Coordinator; firstname.lastname@example.org | Mil Behnken, Office Manager; email@example.com