I’m enjoying my Theology of Mission class, and especially our readings—both of our texts are by Catholic authors, which makes for tasty theology. I found a quote, though, from an evangelical missiologist (theologian of mission), Charles van Engen, who sums up mission perfectly—at least I think so (Constants in Context, 336):
Mission is the people of God intentionally crossing barriers
from church to nonchurch, faith to nonfaith,
to proclaim by word and deed
the coming kingdom of God
in Jesus Christ;
this task is achieved by means of the church’s participation
in God’s mission of reconciling people
to God, to themselves, to each other, and to the world,
and gathering them into the church
through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ
by the work of the Holy Spirit
with a view to the transformation of the world
as a sign of the coming of the kingdom
in Jesus Christ.
Just everything that needs to be said about mission is in this short paragraph: (1) the sent-ness of the Church (“intentionally crossing borders…”); (2) going out from the Church (“from church to nonchurch…”); (3) seeking to stir up faith in Christ (“from faith to nonfaith…”); (4) interrelation of evangelism and social concern (“by word and deed…”); (5) the content of proclamation as kingdom; (6) the centering of the kingdom on Christ; (7) participation in the mission of God (missio Dei to be all exotic and Latin); (8) mission as reconciliation; (9) reconciliation in four directions: with God, self, others and creation; (10) the gathering of the faithful into the new Israel (“gathering them into the church…”); (11) repentance and faith as the modus operandi; (12) the work of the Holy Spirit in awakening to faith; (13) a holistic interpretation of salvation as the God-sourced transformation of created reality; and finally, (14) an eschatological focus on the returning Christ-King.
There you have it. Theology of Mission in a paragraph, and you didn’t even need to take the class. Brilliance.