This study is a definition of our “mission”, what is the mission of Christianity. These are my views, opinions, etc. on the topic.
- 1 What is the mission of Christianity?
- 2 Biblical Evangelism
- 3 A “Biblical” Local Church
In the aftermath and decline of Christianity in America, many Christians are asking the question, what went wrong? Why is God taking His hand of blessing off of the United States? Simply put, Christianity got distracted from its mission.
What is the mission of Christianity?
Matt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
This is really easy but most won’t get it right even so. The mission, primary and essential, of Christianity is to present the gospel to the unsaved (evangelism), and to incorporate the converts of that effort into a local church. What most Christians reaction to this is “yes, I agree”, but really, they don’t. Instead of following the biblical pattern of evangelism they do and financially support something else, and instead of attending, participating in, and financially supporting a biblical church, they put their efforts, energies, and resources (at least the majority of these things) into something else.
Secondly, our mission is simply a continuation of Jesus Christ’s mission of saving the world. In John 14:12, Christ foresees and foretells of us who will continue his work. “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Mat 18:11). We are fishers of men (Mat 4:19). Paul says that “God… has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2Cor 5:18).
Before I leave the “mission of Christianity”, consider that everything in the Scriptures is brought under that concept of our mission. What is important, essencial, and commanded by God for us to do, basically has to do with evangelism (our testimony of Christ in the world), or our being a part of the body of Christ in a local church. This is the mission of Christianity.
What is “biblical evangelism”? Simply put, it is to go to where the unsaved are, and present the gospel to them. It means going to their houses, businesses, and places of work, where they occupy their life, and presenting the gospel to them there. Seems most churches have some type of evangelism, and everybody thinks “what they do” in evangelism is biblical, but this is not true, and we all need to go back to the drawing board, to the Word of God, to check if we truly are “biblical” in our evangelism.
Evangelism is the plan of salvation, nothing else
Some churches think evangelism is going door to door to take a religious survey, or invite the unsaved to church BBQ. This is not evangelism. Even inviting the unsaved to come hear the gospel presented in a service is not evangelism. Evangelism is actually you giving the gospel to an unsaved person so they understand it and get saved. So the first thing is, if there is no biblical presentation of Jesus as the Saviour of the world, there is no biblical evangelism being involved.
Somewhere in the modernization of churches and the ministry, we got an idea that we are evangelizing by just inviting. We are supportive of evangelism if we invite other to hear the gospel, but evangelism is only and absolutely only the presentation of the gospel to the unsaved.
Here people misunderstand and extend the concept to unbiblical extremes. China is a closed country to the gospel. When I met a missionary to mainland China, I wanted to sit and talk with him about his ministry in China. Come to find out that he has an orphanage, and that he has about 100 children in his care. He uses missionary support from churches for this. I asked if he gets to witness to these young children and teach them the Bible. His answer shocked me. “No, the government chooses who one of our paid workers is, and they have their plant in our workers. We cannot give the gospel openly nor in private to any child, we cannot teach the Bible, nor can we speak of religion.” I asked him if he has a church, and his answer was no, that they go to a “foreigners church” that the Chinese permit to exist.
Our mission is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved, and get them “churched”. Anything that takes a form other than that is not biblical evangelism. This is the social gospel which threats to overtake biblical missions completely, and “we” (American Christianity) is happy to let it do so.
Many churches have totally replaced the plan of salvation with the social gospel as their principal time, energy, financial, and resource priority. Everything in their churches revolve around a social aspect of the Christian life. Although this is important, it is not the primary mission of the church, and therefore should occupy a lower place in our efforts and sacrifices.
Building houses, educating the unskilled for good jobs, and all other such types of things are good, but they are not to be our “primary interest” the first thing we seek, the thing that saturates our thinking and activities, nor the thing we totally invest our lives in. The only thing that can occupy that place is our salvation, and our salvation includes confessing Christ to unsaved people.
Evangelism is a “personal” presentation of the gospel to an unsaved.
I am sorry, but I have to insist that this evangelism be “personal”. This reaches so deep that I cannot remain silent about it. Somewhere Satan has inserted in our Christian thinking that “I personally don’t have to evangelize, but our church does it, our missionaries do it, and since I am part of our church and give financially, that is all that I need.” One of the consequences of this attitude (besides not presenting the gospel to others) is that most Christians are clueless if they should find themselves in the situation of a willing unsaved wanting to be savd. They don’t know what to say. Unfortunately all this is a grave error. Romans 10:8-13 speaks of our salvation, and marks salvation as a (1) belief in our heart, and (2) a confession of our mouth. How do you confess Christ? “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (10:11). So this is the problem, salvation is a public confession of Christ, and this in its essence is evangelism. He who is ashamed of Christ as his saviour is not saved (Mat 10:32-33). I do not think this is a works salvation, because giving public testimony to who saved you is not a work, but it is expressing your faith.
You cannot have other people believe for you to get you to heaven, and neither can you have other people give confession of Christ (evaneglism) for you to comply with this essential aspect of salvation. Public confession of our faith is at the heart of the gospel, and people who cannot (not able) or will not (not wanting to) are people who are clear examples of saved people. Something is gravely wrong with these people and their thinking, and even though I am not one to judge, I have to read my Bible and I see all Christians give testimony to their faith, and the lack of that is because their faith is false.
This is personal. Each and every individual needs to confess Christ publicly, and they need to have a mind set of “publicly confessing Christ”. The idea of missions, or supporting missionaries, is born in this mindset. People sacrifice financially to support this work around the globe because this is their heart, so they do it locally, and they see that it is done globally.
A “Biblical” Local Church
When we come to the idea of getting the converts of evangelism into the congregation of the people of God, this is also flawed and gravely wrong in many people’s thinking. Our salvation exists in one form as our being identified in the people of God, being one member of the Body of Christ. Our identification as part of the Body of Christ is exactly what makes us saved, or is a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Somehow, Satan has so twisted our concepts that now, the Body of Christ is not really a local church, but something else.
What is the body of Christ?
In the Bible, the church has a specific local definition or representation. To understand this, take the parallel concept of marriage. What is marriage? It is two people who make a committment between themselves as husband and wife. So is there any such thing as a “universal marriage”? No. We speak of married people in general, or universally as marriage, and every one of them has to qualify by being locally united to a person of the oppose sex. Is it marriage when 3 women and 3 men live in common? How about 2 men? How about 2 women? No. Marriage has a definition, and although we can speak broadly about marriage, the definition has to go back to that 1 woman and 1 man, making a unique and only those two commitment.
The church concept is the same. Nobody is a part of a church without being a part of a church. The basis of entrance is a local church, and then we can speak of the universal church, but nobody is part of the universal church without some qualifying local membership somewhere. The Bible never presents any N.T. believer living outside of any local church. Everywhere the people accepted the Lord, they formed local churches. You can get technical and say what about a man on his dying bed that accepts Christ? Okay, maybe there are some exceptions, but the fact and rule remains, and we insist that, every NT Christian enters a local church membership shortly after salvation, or witnesses to others, and with those that get saved, they form a local church. That is the rule, the norm, what is almost always going to happen. If you want to be the exception, accept the Lord and quickly die, and maybe, just maybe, you will be the exception.
People who refuse the congregating, participation, support, and fellowship of fellow believers are not saved. Christ never saved an individual that he didn’t place into the body of Christ. Being in the body, they are members of His body (many individuals in one).
This whole concept seems to have fallen under the attacks of Satan, and is now out of fashion with most of Christianity. Either people don’t go to church (unless they need church for a wedding or funeral), or they make church into a freak, something totally opposite and scary in comparision to the NT concept of “church”.
Evangelism is not getting people into “Christian organizations”
Having been a pastor for now 24 years, it is my sad observation that none of the modern Christian religious organizations “work.” They don’t work, they are broke, they don’t function for the purpose that they intend to be. The Navigators group wants to discipline new converts. I am sorry, but this doesn’t work. Bible studies done by groups outside the local church end up being power plays where evil people (good at first sight) end up wanting to control new converts. The only biblical and functioning way to make people grow is to put them into the flock of God, and that they get fed with the rest of the sheep. Individual Bible studies may be good at some level, but as an auxiliary for a temporary time until the person can function fully in the body of Christ.
Even shepherds take a sickly newborn and gives it a bottle to help it through a rough spot in its life. But no sheep will be a good sheep, if you always cuddle it in your arms and bottle feed it. Sheep have to walk the fields, and graze with the rest. This is an important rule that seems to be ignored to the harm of the sheep, and harm to the body of Christ.
Christian radio stations, Christian summer camps, Bible Institutes, Bible colleges and universities, counseling centers, and a host of other ministries are not a church. God has structured that only in a local church, defined and functioning as God has imposed on all, only that church will truly give the Christian what he needs.
As a pastor, I see the failures and immature people in our church (always there are some), and the offenses and problems between these people, and I despair sometimes. I got to the point where I just cannot keep peace between all these people. Then I realized, this is all wrong. I am not supposed to keep the peace. This is how God has designed things so that these people grow and mature. Taking criticisms and personal attacks is part of “growing up” (being mature). The local church is a dynamic of good and bad, mature and immature. What happens is that God uses the immature Christians to grow the mature ones, if, and only if, the mature Christians are participating.
Christ’s body (the church) is a self relating, self-edifying, community of faith
Rom 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
This concept of our “community of faith” is one in which we need to understand is at the very heart of our salvation. Our salvation is based on Christ placing us in this “community of faith” group. The confused Christian who thinks he is going to heaven, but rejects the concept of being a live, participating part of the community of faith, is just on one hand proclaiming salvation, and on the other denying it. This community of faith is always and only seen in the participation of the individual in a local church of some type, form, or style. He is with other like believers in spiritual activity and fellowship. To some people, you would think that Satan is behind every church, pastor, and deacon in the world, and there are no true churches, neither is the church-pastor-deacon system even of God. Well, God gave it to us, and granted the majority of churches in the world are far from being like the model Christ gave us, but the system is still divine, and if the people use and work the system God has given us, it will work.
Our churches have gone very far from the Bible’s teaching when it is acceptable to get new converts enrolled in the typical Christian’s religious-social action groups (his religious political group, his Christian radio station, his favorite Christian university, his favorite Christian books, etc), but leaves vacant the community of faith which is the local church. A sincere Christian can grow and be a spiritual God-pleasing Christian with just attending and participating in a good local church and not having any of these other relationships, but no Christian can please God if he isn’t attending, participating, and supporting a good local church. Think about that long and hard. So why do we push new converts into a dozen or two things which will not grow him, and neglect what will? This is how we have “missed our mission”, and this is why our Christians of our day are so sorry, weak, and insipant. They simply are baby Christians, following the Christian fades, all of which revolve around one of two things: (1) making some “ministry” money, or (2) control of the brethren.
Life in the community of faith (which according the NT is a local church, because there is nothing else seen nor presented to us as the community of faith of 1st century Christianity) is what grows Christians. There are direct opposites (night clubs, ball clubs, social groups, etc), and there are competitors, things which simply suck up all our time in supposedly “religious” activities but in truth, does not return anything substantial spiritually speaking.