Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What is the mission of the church?

I recently posted a portion of Mark Galli's "Why We Need More 'Chaplains' and Fewer Leaders." That column has recieved some polite pushback and here Galli responds, explaining what he believes the mission of the Church is and why he is not attracted to the "missional" approach:
.... The one New Testament letter that spells out the purpose and function of the church is Ephesians. And Ephesians is about nothing if it is not about worship, “to the praise of his glory.” The mission of the church there is to worship.  And this, of course, accords with the ultimate “mission” and destination of the church: worship in heaven (Rev. 4, for example).  The mission of the church on earth—if it is to have integrity--must reflect its ultimate “mission” and destination, otherwise what in the world are we evangelizing people for?  Merely to become evangelists?  No, we evangelize people so that they might join the heavenly throng and worship—forever and now.

The other mission of the church in Ephesians, of course, is bringing to maturity the members of the church, to the full stature of Christ, so that everyone in the church will live in the unity of love.  There is, in fact, very little missional language in Ephesians as we use the term missional today.  The only time that happens, (like in chapter 3) is when Paul talks about his unique calling.  But nowhere does he suggest that his calling is to be adopted by everyone.  He understands his calling as unique. But when it comes to talking about the church’s general calling, things missional are hardly to be found.

Now let me be clear: ONE of the callings of the church is to send certain people out in mission!  Thus the gifts of apostleship and evangelism.  But only some members have these gifts.  It’s not the way the entire church’s purpose is ever talked about.  I would even argue that the Great Commission is the commission to apostles (those like the original 12 who are “sent out”), but not such to each and every member of the church.  It is only the church’s commission because apostles are identified and supported by the church.  The church, as such, has a fuller, more complete “mission”: worship of the living God and bringing people to maturity and unity in Christ.  As noted, this is a fuller vision because this is what we will do for eternity.  To worship and grow together in unity is our reason for existence, from beginning to end (Eph. 1).  ....

.... I have deep admiration for the motives and passion of those committed to the missional movement, in its varied forms. So much of what goes on in the name of missional is right and good and frankly inspiring (albeit intimidating: the commitment of some missional leaders is amazing). I just happen to think this model makes unrealistic demands on most church members, creates needless guilt, inculcates pride, and in the long run leads to despair. .... Okay, I’m being dramatic.  But I still think the missional model has pastoral and theological problems. I want what missional leaders want: a healthy church that displays the love of Christ to the world. I just think the missional approach, as I understand it, will backfire soon enough, because it traffics too much in contemporary cultural assumptions about what is important, useful, effective, and so forth.

I think there is a reason the early church, when it thought about what it meant to be a church, put the emphasis on worship, catechesis, and the presbyter/overseer as shepherd and teacher of the flock, not the general of an army. .... [more]
It Takes A Church...: Mark Galli Responds: Pastors in a changing world--Leaders or Chaplains?


  1. Anonymous11:35 AM

    (1) I have read with interest the posting on the Blog and believe that the argument for Worship as a purpose of the gathered assembly is a good thing of which to be reminded. However to argue that the discovery is made from Ephesians in my opinion pushes the Epistle.
    Chapter 1 Is a picture of the blessing and wholeness of salvation
    Chapter 2 Presents the issues of Faith and building on them Chapter 3 Creates a pattern of Stewardship
    Chapter 4 The opening of Creedal Hymn and the Walk of the Christian Chapter 5 Following Christ and the parable of Marriage
    Chapter 6 Relational Living and the preparation for Spiritual warfare
    In this examination “Where is Worship connected to the Assembly?’

  2. Anonymous11:36 AM

    (2)I am unclear about the concept of church being talked about in this portion of the blog.
    Ephesians 1:22
    And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
    Ephesians 3:10
    so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
    Ephesians 3:21
    to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
    Ephesians 5:23
    For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
    Ephesians 5:24
    But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
    Ephesians 5:25
    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
    Ephesians 5:27
    that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
    Ephesians 5:29
    for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,
    Ephesians 5:32
    This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
    These are the only passages in Ephesians (NASB). I am not sure that any of these are directly related to Worship.

  3. Anonymous11:37 AM

    (3) The text of the “Great Commission” limited to the Apostles??? I would agree that this text is not individual but is targeted at the gathered Community Faith
    a.More than the Apostles were gathered (Even some who doubted).
    b.This gathering was important to the community for it was following the message of the woman as to where to meet. Thus creating not obedient individuals only but an obedient community to Lordship of Jesus.
    c.Whether it is in the autograph (as I believe) or was a later addition as often argued the intent of its placement in the text and the distribution in the network of assemblies with its missional consequences cannot be relegated to an also ran.
    d. This Great Commission has historical weight which also must be added to Missional aspect of the charge. In the modern Missionary Movement beginning with William Carey this Commission has been taken for discipling and incorporating persons in to the assembly the church.
    (4) What then is purpose of the ecclesia? In my theological viewpoint the purpose is the forming of tangible, touchable community where the Covenant relationship both vertically and horizontally is alive and the Kingdom of God exists as reality.

    (5) One more note the Gifts of Spirit are not just for just having some to be sent out. As I read I Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4 and Romans 12 these are for the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s ministry through the assembly. Apostles are directly connected to the assembly and thus may not necessarily be sent out. The gift of evangelist is not necessarily one who is sent out but one who has the ability to bring persons from the Kingdom of Darkness to Kingdom light in the real incorporation into the assembly. The gifts seem to be inactive and interdependent so that the ministry of Apostle or Evangelist has no effective work unless linked to the other gifts given to the body , the assembly i.e. Helps, Administration, Tongues,

    (6) As you can see this blog stirred my thought.


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