What Is Mission?

John Stott

John Stott by Brett Jordan on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0 licence.

The late John Stott once wrote,

Mission is everything the church is sent into the world to do.

Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams by Chris John Beckett on Flickr. Reproduced under Creative Commons Licence 2.0.

Others, such as Rowan Williams, have put the stress on God’s initiative, which we follow:

Mission is finding out what God is doing and joining in.

Either way, mission is a big word. It includes evangelism, social justice, healing, concern for the environment and other elements.

How do we hold these elements together? Some organisations, such as Hope Together, encourage local churches to practise both evangelism and social justice as part of their mission witness. Tear Fund, known primarily as a Christian relief and development agency, actually believes in what it calls ‘integral mission‘, in which they seek to meet both material and spiritual needs.

How do you think we should respond to this in the church? Should everyone support all aspects of mission? Is it OK for some to emphasise evangelism, and others to stress social justice? There are some Christian organisations solely devoted to evangelism, and others (such as Christian Aid) who are purely committed to relief, development and campaigning.

How might this work out in your life, and in your church?

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One thought on “What Is Mission?

  1. I agree that the word mission is sometimes hard to define, but I do believe it requires at least some form of evangelism. I personally support ministers and missions that at some point focus on the gospel. However, I do realize that taking care of the physical needs is also important. In the end, we are not saving them from their bad situation on earth, we are saving them from eternal damnation in hell.

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