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God’s mission has a church

By Dr. Chris Surber

God’s mission has a church. That statement rocked my world when I heard another pastor proclaim it as he opened his session at a conference I attended. God’s mission has a church.

In other words, the mission comes first. The mission is the point. The church exists for the mission.

What is the mission? It is The Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV)

Why did Jesus say, “Go therefore …”? What’s the therefore there for? It’s there for the resurrection!

The most monumental event in human history had just occurred, and Jesus was ensuring clarity on the part of the disciples as to why their primary aim had to be about the mission of making disciples.

He could have said a lot of things at this juncture. He could have said, “Go therefore and build buildings with lots of plaques in them to celebrate yourselves.” He could have. But He didn’t.

He could have said, “Once you fill your building with people, get into copious amounts of debt to rob yourselves of the financial resources necessary to send missionaries, evangelists and pastors into parts unknown to spread the Gospel.” He didn’t say that either.

Jesus said that the first and primary and only right response to being a disciple of Christ is to go and tell others. God’s church isn’t called to sprinkle in a little missions work to please the fanatics or attract sentimental do-gooders to our church meetings.

The more one grows in Christ, the more one will necessarily grow in mission. The call of sharing the truth and love of Jesus becomes clearer and clearer the closer we get to Him.

In the words of Henry Martyn, Anglican priest and missionary to India and Persia, “The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to him, the more intensely missionary we must become.”

The modern resurgence of interest and participation in domestic and foreign missions is not a fad, a trend or an accident. It is a direct reaction to the stale self-serving culture that has developed in a century of Christianity-lite in America. That statement is only offensive because it’s true.

If we are followers of Jesus, let’s stop pretending He called us to accumulate trophies, when He clearly called us to give our lives away. If we claim Christ, let’s be fully claimed by Christ. Revival tarries, because we tarry. Holy Spirit power is in short supply, because we don’t want it.

God hasn’t called us to build orphanages to babysit Christians suffering from chronic spiritual malnutrition. God’s mission has a church, and His church needs to get busy on mission.

The Rev. Dr. Chris Surber is the pastor at Liberty Spring Christian Church. Email him at chris@chrissurber.com.