Today marks the end of our "musings" on the Missional Manifesto blog series. I have really enjoyed looking at the manifesto's affirmations in more detail. I want to thank those of you who have joined in on this conversation around the missio Dei. I'm convinced this is one of the most important discussions we can be investing our time and energy into in this unique season in the life of the church.
I've been encouraged by the response to the manifesto. Schools have been teaching from the manifesto. Networks have said, "this is how we define 'missional' when we use the term." One denominational leader emailed me today that they are including the document in their resource on how churches can be missional. I am encouraged people are finding the manifesto helpful.
You can read about the affirmations we've looked at here:
The last affirmation of the manifesto deals with Application. It reads like this:
We believe the mission of the church continues in multiplying and maturing the followers of Christ (discipleship), increasing the number of congregations (church planting) dedicated to God's kingdom (living under His lordship), extending God's fame throughout the earth (worship), and doing good in the name of Christ (works of mercy).
In short, this affirmation deals with the natural progression that as the gospel is planted in our hearts, gospel expressions should naturally be planted and multiply in our cities and around the world. Healthy things grow. The mission God has given the church is meant to be a means by which exponential expansion of the Kingdom of God is possible. Anything less means we have divorced the good news from the Great Commission.
In my post on affirmation #7 on "disciple-making," I said this:
A disciple understands the gospel and lives in light of it (Galatians 2:14), he/she will naturally be on mission, proclaiming and enacting the gospel. This is how more disciples are made and churches are birthed. Disciples don't just know, they do.
In other words, mission should always work itself out into orthopraxy. Mission is doing.
The final affirmation in the manifesto highlights five "outworkings" of this progression: discipleship, church planting, Lordship, worship, and works of mercy. We have looked at discipleship, Lordship, and works of justice and mercy in previous posts so I want to look specifically at worship as we close out our series. (I haven't wrote about specifically about church planting in this series but you can find my posts on church planting at http://www.edstetzer.com/church-planting/)
It is fitting that we close with the idea that the mission of God should culminate in worship. Many have heard the famous quote by John Piper, from his book Let the Nations Be Glad, in which he said this:
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever...the deepest reason why worship is the goal in missions is that worship is God's goal.
Piper is right. The end game is worship of God. That is why the fourth affirmation on mission reads, "Moving from God, through the church, to the world, God's redemptive work results in people of every tribe, tongue and nation responding in lifelong worship of the God. Ultimately the missio Dei will encompass all of creation when God creates a new heaven and new earth."
Part of being a missional church is sharing God's passion. We will be passionate about what matters to God. So, missional churches should care deeply for the ta ethne' (tribes and tongues) of their community and world. r We, the church, are created in Jesus for this very purpose. God created the world with people who bear His image, though through sin that image is marred and fellowship with God is broken. However, his response to this was sending his Son to sacrifice and save that which was lost, and he has created and commissioned the church to bear witness to the world of this gospel seeking to fill the whole earth with worshippers of Him.
Gospel mission makes disciples. Disciples make up gospel communities and churches. Churches make up Kingdom expressions in cities, regions, and countries. These "cities on a hill" culminate in bringing worship to the King. May our mission lead to the exaltation of the first missionary, God the Father.
As always, be sure to read the preamble and affirmations here, and then come back and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.