After sharing about my understanding of the Christian church’s mission yesterday, here are four great quotes I’m chewing on about the subject.
The first three are quoted in the introduction to Michael Gorman’s book, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission, which I’ve just begun reading through:
“The gospel story . . . defines the life of the Christian and the life of the Church, while the life of the Church and the life of the Christian is, correspondingly, a retelling and reinterpreting of that gospel story. The world has no access to the gospel story other than as it is narrated in the life, worship, and proclamation of the Church. . . . Through its service and being as witness, the Church is a rendering of the gospel to the world” (John Colwell, Living the Christian Story, 85).
“I have come to feel that the primary reality of which we have to take account in seeking for a Christian impact on public life is the Christian congregation. How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic [means of interpretation] of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it” (Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, 27).
“. . . the most evangelistic thing the church can do today is to be the church — to be formed imaginatively by the Holy Spirit through core practices such as worship, forgiveness, hospitality, and economic sharing into a distinctive people in the world, a new social option, the body of Christ” (Bryan Stone, Evangelism after Christendom).
And here’s one from the conclusion to Dean Flemming’s excellent book on mission:
“. . . the biblical understanding of mission is rich and multifaceted. Proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ is essential, to be sure. But the mission of God’s people includes so much more: acts of compassion and deeds of justice, confronting the powers and caring for creation, being a blessing and embodying the kingdom, engaging the culture and attracting outsiders, building up disciples and living holy lives, prayer and praise, worship and suffering, giving and loving. A truly biblical understanding of the church’s mission is bigger than we often imagine–big enough to embrace all of these dimensions” (Dean Flemming, Recovering the Full Mission of God, 257).