Formation + Nurture + Leadership = Mission
According to the late Bishop Joseph Johnson the Church is defined as both event and institution. The Church is a movement of the pilgrim people of God in history in an endeavor to continue the ministry of the Servant-Lord in the world.
Mission is derived from the Latin word “mission,” “to send”. Donald McKim in the Dictionary of Theological Terms defines mission as all that is done by the church and by Christians to serve God. Mission can be used to describe direct activities or tasks undertaken by the church for particular purposes.
The late Dr. Joseph R. Johnson, former General Secretary of the Department of Christian Education “mission is a matter of witness, of being present in the world and participating in the world as one of God’s people.”
Mission is the shared sense of calling to follow Jesus, and a growing desire to be formed by the Bible for his service. Reading, hearing and responding to the Bible is how Christians learn to “follow Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth.”
The first church shared the conviction that they existed for Christ’s mission. They were the result of the apostolic mission and their purpose was to continue that mission.
The Gospels describe how Jesus brought his disciples together and trained them for mission. Their discipline was a “a going to school with Jesus,” and their graduation was the call to be apostles. Jesus’ disciples became his “sent out ones,” witnessing to the Good News, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The mission of a disciple and the mission of the Church is the same.--Matthew 10:38-39
The life of the church is expressed in its willingness to lose its life for the sake of Jesus Christ.--Matthew 28:19-20
The command of Jesus is underscored by two imperatives: GO and TEACH
In the process of Christian Discipleship that we contend results when we practice the elements stated in our formula Formation + Nurture + Leadership = Mission, we gravitate towards the understanding of “Being Sent by Jesus.”
Jesus comes to us shut doors, stands in the midst of us and blesses us with his peace just as he did with the disciples who were gathered behind closed doors after his crucifixion. In the words of John 20:21, Jesus joins the mission of the church to his mission.
Therefore when we seek to form and nurture persons in the faith, equipping and empowering members of the local church for leadership we participate in Jesus mission. The church “is sent,” by Jesus into the world. When members are formed and nurtured in Jesus Christ and engaged in leadership, mission results and discipleship happens.
In understanding that we are “sent by Christ,” and that the Church is defined as both “institution and event,” the Department of Christian Education has formulated the mission of “making disciples through events that form and transform.”
Additional ResourcesThe Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church
by Diana Butler Bass
Description: The conventional wisdom about mainline Protestantism maintains that it is a dying tradition, irrelevant to a postmodern society, unresponsive to change, and increasingly disconnected from its core faith tenets. In her provocative new book, historian and researcher Diana Butler Bass argues that there are signs that mainline Protestant churches are indeed changing, finding a new vitality intentionally grounded in Christian practices and laying the groundwork for a new type of congregation. The Practicing Congregation tracks these changes by looking at the overall history of American congregations, noting the cultural trends that have sparked change, and providing evidence of how mainline churches are reappropriating traditional Christian practices. The signs of life that Butler Bass identifies lead the reader beyond the crumbling “liberal vs. conservative” dualities to a more nuanced and fluid understanding of the shape of contemporary ecclesiology and faithfulness. In so doing, she helps readers understand tradition in new ways and creates an alternative path through the culture wars that today arrest the energies of most denominations. Invigorated by stories from Bass’s own experience, "The Practicing Congregation" provides a hopeful and exciting vision of “the once and future church” that Alban founder Loren Mead first named in two decades ago. The imaginative “retraditioning” the author identifies and celebrates will guide pastors and other leaders on this “pilgrimage of creating church” and convincingly counter the naysayers that long ago gave up on the viability of the mainline church. Chosen and Sent: Calling the Church to Mission
by Theodore Eastman