Engage in Mission

mission-of-gods-peopleToday, HTC hosted the UCCF Mission Tour. We were pleased to have representatives of several mission agencies with us, and a good number of students and staff came together (in both Dingwall and Glasgow) to listen, to pray and to consider how we can be involved in global mission.

HTC gives a high priority to global mission, not least because theological education plays an important part in global mission. The ‘Cape Town Commitment‘ of the Lausanne Movement states,

‘The mission of the Church on earth is to serve the mission of God, and the mission of theological education is to strengthen and accompany the mission of the Church. Theological education serves first to train those who lead the Church as pastor-teachers, equipping them to teach the truth of God’s Word with faithfulness, relevance and clarity; and second, to equip all God’s people for the missional task of understanding and relevantly communicating God’s truth in every cultural context. Theological education engages in spiritual warfare, as “we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” [2 Cor 10:4-5]’

The Cape Town Commitment, IIF.4

Since the Mission Tour visits CUs in various universities, we began by watching a very effective short video on the work of UCCF/IFES. You can watch it here. Please do take some time to watch it.

We also read and considered the text of Matthew 9:35-38:

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’

I considered this text in a chapter I wrote for a book a few years ago and I am always glad to come back to it, particularly as it presents readers with the compassion of Jesus as a central motivation for mission. It is also striking that Jesus’ disciples become the answer to their (presumed) prayers in Matthew 10!

Mission is such an important subject that it deserves careful thought and study. Some excellent books on mission have been published in recent years. Among many, I will mention only two.

First, Chris Wright, International Director of Langham Partnership, has written a readable book, entitled The Mission of God’s People, that combines sound biblical theology with application to the life and mission of the church. He regards these as inseparable:

‘There should be no theology that does not relate to the mission of the church – either by being generated out of the church’s mission or by inspiring and shaping it. And there should be no mission of the church carried on without deep theological roots in the soil of the Bible.
No theology without missional impact; no mission without theological foundations.’

Christopher J. H. Wright
The Mission of God’s People
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), p. 20.

Later in his book, Wright considers what it means to know God:

‘… to know God is to be challenged to make God known. It is to be entrusted with knowledge that God wants to be shared. That is what makes it missional. For behind all our mission stands the unshakeable determination of God to be known throughout his whole creation as the living God. God’s will to be known is what makes our mission not only imperative but also possible.’

Christopher J. H. Wright
The Mission of God’s People
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), p. 152

More recently, Michael Goheen has witten, Introducing Christian Mission Today, which provides a wide-ranging survey of biblical, historical and contemporary aspects of the study of mission. Goheen offers a brief definition of ‘mission’, as follows,

‘Mission is the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole person in the whole world.’

Michael W. Goheen
Introducing Christian Mission Today: Scripture, History and Issues
(Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2014), 26.

(Goheen indicates that this definition draws on the wording of earlier definitions, such as those developed by the Lausanne Movement.)

In addition to his own clearly-written material, Goheen includes selected quotations from numerous notable missiologists, which makes this book a valuable, up-to-date introduction to the study of mission.

One of the most significant chapters in Goheen’s book (particularly for readers in ‘the West’) is a substantial ‘survey of the global church’ (pp. 187-224). This highlights the remarkable growth of the Christian Church in the ‘Global South’.

I encourage readers to read these books if they have the opportunity.

I left our meeting today both encouraged regarding the many ways in which global mission is already taking place and challenged regarding how I may participate in global mission more fully, whether locally or internationally.

Mission agencies that have visited us at Mission Tours (this year and in previous years) include: AIM, Pioneers, Mission Africa, OM, OMF, SIM, UFM, WEC. If you are thinking of getting involved, I am certain that colleagues at any one of these agencies would be pleased to speak with you.

Recently, many churches have sung Keith and Kristen Getty’s revision of an old hymn entitled, ‘Facing a Task Unfinished’, as a means of reflecting on the urgency of global mission. If you haven’t heard it, please take a few minutes to listen to it here and here.

It was good to be reminded of the role we can play in global mission, but also that the initiator and enabler of global mission is ‘the Lord of the harvest’.