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Some Thoughts on a Biblical Theology of Mission - Part 3

Charles Van Engen, in God’s Missionary People, makes the point that the local church is in essence a band of missionaries, and that church and mission are interwoven. In fact, he quotes the International Missionary Council in saying that “…there is no participation in Christ without participation in his mission to the world” (Van Engen: 29). He continually makes this link by adding that “only as congregations intentionally live out their nature as the missionary people of God will the Church begin to emerge to become in fact what it is by faith” (Van Engen: 44).

Van Engen draws on Scripture to make the case for the link between church and mission, therefore making the Body of Christ, by nature, a missionary venture. In commenting on Acts 1:8 he poses this question:

“Could it not be that Jesus is telling his disciples that they are a certain kind of fellowship which in its essential nature is an ever-widening, mushrooming group of missionary witnesses?” (Van Engen: 42)

Acts 1:8 is really a fleshed out version of one of the many Great Commission verses like Matthew 28:18-20. Although Acts 1:8 is more of a promise than a command, it carries with it the authority of Jesus who propels us outward, as Van Engen points out, as an “an ever-widening, mushrooming group of missionary witnesses” (Van Engen: 42). These commands, together with a vision of the future of God’s reign and the under girding of Jesus’ payment with His blood, gives us a robust and biblical theology of mission.

Van Engen, Charles Edward
1991 God's Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church. Grand Rapids: Baker.

image: crossroads by PedjaP

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