What is the Mission of the Church
By: Rev. Sam Harris
|By: Rev. Sam Harris; ©2001|
|In response to a question regarding missions emphasis, Rev. Harris outlines Acts 14:21-23 to find the three-fold task of the Christian Church.|
What Is the Mission of the Church?
Our church is preparing to have its annual missions conference soon, and, as a Sunday School teacher, I have been asked to present a missions lesson to my class in preparation for the conference. I know there are many passages in Scripture that I could use, but do you have a suggestion of one that might be most helpful? Hurry, as I need this ASAP!
You are right; there are many great passages that emphasize missions. I have to do the same thing this coming Sunday, and I will be using Acts 14:21-23. Let me outline this passage for you.
We must begin by asking ourselves: What is the task or mission of the church? Our answer should be: “To reach the world for Christ, and I am speaking of the whole world beginning right in our neighborhood and community. This basic command is found in two familiar passages: Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8. Be sure you take a look as these verses.
In Acts 14:21-23, we see the mission of the church in the form of a ministry to follow. The date of this passage is about 18 years after Pentecost. Paul is coming to the end of his first missionary journey and is in southern Galatia, the cities of Antioch, Ionium, Lystra, and Derbe. He always sought to preach to the Jews, but his targets were the Gentiles. On this particular journey, he and Barnabas had both success and tough opposition. Paul was actually stoned and dragged out of the city and left for dead.
Paul and Barnabas’s ministry can be summed up in three basic areas:
- Acts 14:21 Evangelizing the unsaved
- Acts 14:22 Edifying the believers
- Acts 14:23 Establishing new churches
1. Verse 21 states that Paul and Barnabas “preached the gospel.” The Greek word used here is euangelizo which means “to proclaim good tidings.” When I preach the gospel or the good news, I am proclaiming three things:
- The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ
- Jesus as Savior and Lord
- The call for people to repent and receive forgiveness of sins.
Now, we are not all called to be preachers or evangelists, but we must ask ourselves? Does our witness, our attitude, actions, and words, reflect a relationship with Jesus Christ that others would want to know about? We “preach the gospel” every day through being “salt and light” and being “ambassadors for Christ.”
We cannot avoid the challenge that is before the church today: to go out and win the lost for Jesus Christ.
2. Verse 22 speaks of “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith.” Paul wanted the believers to grow in the faith. Once saved, like the birth of the baby, it’s important to be nurtured in the faith, to be discipled, in order that we grow in the knowledge and understanding of our faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ. “Strengthen” means to “build up,” while “encourage” implies the idea to “beseech or exhort.”
It is important for us to grow in our Christian faith just as a baby grows and matures
physically. We will undergo many trials and temptations, so we need to be prepared for them in order that our witness and testimony will not be discredited. The more that we experience in our lives and over come, the more we can encourage others in their walk of faith.
It should be our desire to see the whole world come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord and then to be strengthened and encouraged by Him.
3. Finally, we see in verse 23 that Paul saw the importance of establishing churches as he went to new cities. Paul didn’t just want to see the good news preached, received and then move on. God’s purpose is in the church. He went to great strides to see that the church was organized and that believers would have a place to worship, grow, learn, serve, and beheld accountable. Hebrews 10:24 & 25 reminds us: “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”
As I prepared for this question and my own Sunday School lesson, I was reminded that Coca Cola once had as its logo to put “A Coke in every hand in every land.” They have done this well! Even more importantly, our goal should be to plant the seed of Good News into in the heart of every person throughout the whole world. Remember John 3:16? “For God so loved the whole world….” And Jesus tells us in Acts 1:8 “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” The word “shall” is not a suggestion, but a command.
Our purpose: to tell the whole world the Good News, and this world certainly does need Good News!