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The primary marching order for the church, the Great Commission, was given by Jesus and is recorded in all four of the Gospels as well as in Acts.
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Luke 24:46-49 “And said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
John 20:21 “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
These are, essentially, Christ’s final words, and our foremost mission and mandate. This mission, clearly sovereign, simple, sequential, and sustainable, is rooted in God’s eternal passion to redeem unto himself a people for his own name’s sake reflecting his astounding glory.
As such, it is the bedrock of what churches and Christians do in every ministry. Each task, activity, role, position, assignment, ministry, opportunity—and whatever other words you may find to describe functions within the body of Christ— must ultimately lead to this God-authored, Christ-honored, Spirit-empowered bulls-eye in some way. The Great Commission is the church’s singular mission and global mandate.
Which begs the question—is there really a missions (plural) category in the church? Should there be? Is it actually biblical to have a missions department/ministry?
In my opinion, yes, even though in one sense, there really shouldn’t be a missions category of the church, for there is only one mission. However, for the sake of understanding how a church should go about accomplishing the single mission left to us by our Lord within a variety of contexts (local, national, and international), it can be helpful to use the term missions. I don’t think a Christian or church is out of bounds to use the term in the plural sense as long as they know those various ladders must all lean against the singular wall of the Great Commission. To mix the metaphors, it’s one mission with tributaries of missions.
So let us be clear: The five aforementioned passages provide a singularly clear and compelling command that form the basis for what we believe about missions in the plural sense. Admittedly, other passages lean into these final instructions as it pertains to methods. But as far as the mission and mandate are concerned, these five texts provide a more than sufficient, universal, and singular directive for the church and the Christian.
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