Theology of Mission

We understand mission to be, first of all, that which God has done in Christ to reclaim His world. This mission was accomplished through Christ atoning for human sin by His death on the cross and ultimately conquering sin, death, and the devil by His resurrection.

It is, second, that which God's people, in accordance with Christ's commission in Matthew 28, continue to do through the Holy Spirit's empowering as they proclaim the Gospel and gather His people into the community of the church. This mission will find its conclusion when Jesus returns in glory.

The mission of the church is God-originated, Christ-centered, and Spirit-empowered.


Mission Foundation

Task

The task of mission is to proclaim salvation through the one Lord, Jesus Christ, with conviction and passion, calling "all people" to believe in Christ alone, renounce their false allegiances, and spend their lives as Christ's disciples (Acts 4:12, 1 Cor. 9:1923, 2 Cor. 5:11-21).

Peter, in his sermon to Cornelius and his family, affirms that mission must be inclusive of all people, tribes, and nations as he stated, "Now, I understand that God doesn't play favorites. Rather, whoever respects God and does what is right is acceptable to him in any nation." (Acts 10:34-35, God's Word to the Nations translation).
Holding to this scriptural principle, we believe that mission work in the United States, as in the world, must incorporate the cultural diversity of its demographics.

The Place of the Church in Mission

In Matthew 16:18 our Lord promised that He would build his church, saying, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."
We strongly affirm that believers in Christ should become a part of a community of faith. Here they are united with fellow believers in Christ for worship, prayer, and service. Here the Holy Spirit, through the Word and Sacraments, empowers them with gifts for service (Rm. 12:68).

The Priesthood of Believers

Peter designates these faithful as the priesthood of believers (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). Mission flows from the heart of a people, a priesthood, who, like Peter, have become disciples, transformed by the Holy Spirit, and demonstrated a willingness to follow Christ and build His church. It is the responsibility of the church to train the priesthood of believers so that they can use their gifts to witness to the lost and assist in the planting and ministry of the church (Rm. 15:46).

Planting and Developing New Churches

Planting and developing new churches is an important and necessary part of mission. As in apostolic times, mission work and church planting were virtually inseparable (Acts 14:27).

Paul consistently planted churches in the cities he visited (Rm. 16:1, 1 Cor. 1:2, 2 Cor. 1:1, Col. 4:15, I Thes. 1:1). His strategy was to preach the Gospel to groups, individuals, and households and to gather those who believed into congregations under local leaders called "elders." (Acts 14:23).

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession

The Apology of the Augsburg Confession defines the church on earth as a gathering of believers:
In accordance with Scriptures, therefore, we maintain that the church in the proper sense is the assembly of saints who truly believe the Gospel of Christ and who have the Holy Spirit (Apology VII, 28).

Large Catechism

In the Large Catechism, Luther gives a more detailed and personal look at the church on earth:

"I believe that there is on earth a little holy flock or community of pure saints under one head, Christ. It is called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith, mind, and understanding. It possesses a variety of gifts, yet is united in love without sect or schism."

"Of this community I also am part and member, a participant and co-partner in all the blessings it possesses. I was brought to it by the Holy Spirit and incorporated into it through the fact that I have heard and still hear God's Word, which is the first step in entering it until the last day the Holy Sprit remains with the holy community of Christian people. Through it he gathers us, using it to teach and preach the Word" (Large Catechism II, 5153).

Leadership Development

The ministry of the church from the Old Testament through the New Testament is set within the universal priesthood of believers. Throughout Scriptures, God raises leaders who, in turn, serve as mentors and train other leaders to carry on the Kingdom work assigned to them.

In the Old Testament, Moses was a mentor to Joshua (Ex. 24:13); Eli was a mentor to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1); Elijah was a mentor to Elisha (1 Kings 19:21); Naomi was a mentor to Ruth (Ruth 3:5); Esther was a mentor to King Xerxes (Esther 5).

In the New Testament, Jesus was a mentor to the twelve disciples (Matthew 11:1); Dorcas was a mentor to the poor (Acts 9:36); Barnabas was a mentor to Paul (Acts 11:25); Paul was a mentor to Timothy and Silas (Acts 16:3); Barnabas was a mentor to John Mark (Acts 13:39); Lydia was a mentor to the church in her home (Acts 16:40); and Eunice and Lois were mentors to Timothy (2 Tim 1:5).

We affirm the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9) bestowed upon believers at their baptism, and the need to involve God's people in the ministry of the church according to their gifts (Ephesians 4:11).

Ministry of all Believers (Pastors and Laity) Witnessing to Christ

The New Testament church is not a highly organized institution, but is a ministry of all believers (pastors and laity) witnessing to Christ in every walk and station of life for the purpose of building up the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:18).

Erwin Lueker in his book, Changes In The Church, sees four basic factors in the New Testament polity of the church:

  1. all ministry centers in Jesus Christ;
  2. the entire Christian community is active in ministry;
  3. the ministry is given by God and exercised through spontaneous use of special gifts, and
  4. special ministries are needed for special situations in an evolving society.

Committed to Providing Mentors

The Center for United States Missions is committed to providing mentors for and training pastors and laity for leadership, mission planting, and mission development in the church (Acts 13:13).
The Church must sense its mission through all of its members (priesthood of all believers) to all of its community. God has made the people of His church a kingdom of priests to serve the Lord and give him glory and power (Revelation 1:5).

Guided and directed by Christ's commission in Matthew 28:19 (teach all nations) and, in light of Paul's encouragement to the church: 

"You have heard my message, and it's been confirmed by many witnesses. Entrust this message to faithful individuals who will be competent to teach others" (2 Timothy 2:2).

The Center for United States Missions will be committed to seeking and training reliable and qualified pastors and laity who will be involved in the planting and growth of new church plants.
Mission Goals

We believe that mission work does not consist of transferring Christians from one church or denomination to another and calling it "growth." Conversion of the unsaved, unchurched, and "uncared for" must be the primary goal for any mission (Mat. 28:19, Mk. 13:10, Mk. 16:15, Rev. 14:6).

We believe that vital churches are organized according to biblical patterns and contextualized to meet local circumstances (Acts 10:28). They consist of a missionary people who define themselves in Christ's terms as light, salt, and leaven in a sinful, divided, and hurting world.

As the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:9), they are available for service in the mission of the church. The churches they plant are seen as living organisms whose purpose is to give new life. They embrace a vision, desire, and ability to give birth to another new mission (Acts 13:3).

 Research

At creation, the Lord said to Adam, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it" (the Hebrew means conquer, subjugate). Since this day we have been in the process of researching and studying to find the best way to "subdue" the world in which we live.

In the Old Testament they searched for the best pastures for their flocks (1 Chronicles 4:39). Men were sent into Canaan to explore the land and return with a research report. Kings researched genealogical records to find families and capable men (1 Chronicles 26:31).

The history and makeup of the city was determined by researching the archives (Ezra 4:15, 19). History was studied to see what decisions were made in the past that would affect the present (Ezra 7:25). The writer of Ecclesiastes states: "I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 1:13).

Research was done to determine what makes people wise and capable and research was done to find the right person (Matthew 10:11). Certain characteristics were sought in those who were chosen as disciples (Mark 3:14). The selection of the seven (Acts 6:1-6) was a careful assessment of men who were full of the Spirit and capable for ministry.

The Center for United States Missions affirms the need for continued research to find, under the direction of God's Holy Spirit, the best people, the best methods, and the best resources. This research will benefit the church and assist those who are called as mission planters and missionaries of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unchurched and unreached in the United States.

Summary

Throughout the Scriptures, God reaches out to all cultures and all peoples (Matthew 24:14). He created all people in His image and his love is equal for all (Genesis 1:27). After man's fall into sin, God set into action His plan of redemption (Genesis 3:15). The mission of God is for all people to be saved and come to learn the truth (1 Timothy 2:3).

Through Abraham, He promised that all nations would be blessed (Genesis 26:4). It is from Abraham's seed that God's Son, Jesus, was born, the God-man who, by his death and resurrection, paid the price for the sins of the world and became the only means through which all nations can again become one (Galatians 3:29).

The church, the body of Christ here on earth, is to carry out God's mission and model this unity of the body. It counts it a privilege to be able to give birth to new missions (Acts 13:2-3). This body makes no distinction between color and culture (Galatians 3:28) as it carries out the command of Christ to "go to all nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ" (Matthew 28:19). The ultimate goal of the Church Militant is that all peoples, in all nations, hear the Good News of salvation and become one in Christ (Galatians 3:28-29). New churches (communities of believers) are planted to give believers a fellowship in which they can worship and serve the Lord (Eph. 5:19).

These new churches train and instruct their people in the Word of God (Rm. 15:4) and together celebrate the sacraments (I Cor. 11:23, Acts 2:42). This enables and empowers them to serve as the priesthood of believers (I Pet. 2:9) in that place.

Guided by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26), they work with vision to reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 22:15) and plant more churches (Acts 13:3). This is now, and will be until the end of time, the mission of the church (Rev. 22:16, 1 Pet. 4).


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