The mission of the Church is to share the surprising Grace of God with other people.
Think about that for a minute. I don’t know what you might or might not think the mission of the Church is. To be honest, I don’t really care. Lots of teachers and preachers and pastors and theologians have written and preached and taught on this subject. But think about it. What if this is it? What if this is all God wants us to do? How different would our churches be if this was their reason for being? How different would your life be if you lived this out?
The mission is to share. We simply cannot keep the good news to ourselves. Because the moment we do, it ceases to be the good news and instead becomes a millstone around our necks. We are merely the conduits of the mission, the means not the end. It’s not Evangelism. It’s 1 Peter 3:15.
The mission is surprising. When was the last time you were surprised by Grace? For too many of us, Grace has become expected, almost deserved. Instead of believing, “It’s free because I cannot afford it,” we feel, “It’s free, so it must not be worth much.” Grace has become cheap.
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost Of Discipleship
The mission is Grace. Not judgement. (Though Grace and Judgement may be even more than two sides of the same coin, in God’s economy, they may be the same thing.) Not feeling or thought or belief. Not doctrine. Not creed. No “ology” of any sort. Simply Grace. Unmerited, abundant, radical. Grace is freedom to not keep on sinning. Grace is laughter through the tears. Grace is the ability to love. Grace is being loved, not in spite of ourselves, not despite ourselves, but simply as ourselves.
The mission is God. The mission is not the Church. How do we keep mixing this up? The Church serves the mission, not the other way round. The mission isn’t a book or a program or a sermon. The mission is God. Don’t give me a book or a song or a movie about God. Give me God. Not about God. Or with God. Or of God. God.
The mission is others. I heard an Asian church planter define discipleship as “learning from the master in order to teach others what the master teaches.” We learn and learn and learn. We study and ready and gather information. Donald Miller, in his blog, likened the American Church to a school whose purpose is to keep students in the school, a school where no one ever graduates. Enough already. The mission isn’t about us. It never was. The mission is about them. (And I’ll let you in on a little secret: we like to think “there’s not them, there’s only us”; but we’ve got it backwards, you see, there’s no us. We’re all them.)
The mission is people. You. Me. Your next door neighbor. Your crazy Aunt Sally. That annoying guy across the street whose yard always looks better than yours. Grandparents. Children. Circus performers. Draft dodgers. LA Dodgers. Roger dodger. Mr. Rogers. Roger Stauback. Roger Wilco. Wilcox. Will. Coxswain. Rowers. Mowers. Towers. “Here’s to Sgt. Hulka, our big toe.” The Incredible Hulk. Bruce Banner. Bruce Jenner. Jenny McCarthy. Cormac McCarthy. Paul McCartney. The rest of the Beatles. The people, not the bugs. And on and on and on. You are the mission. The surprising mission of God.