Story Magazine - Spring/Summer, 2012

The future of the church: Changed minds through mission

by Richard Bliese

Mission is not only the "mother of theology," as Lutheran theologian Martin Kahler said at the turn of the 20th century and as the South African missiologist David Bosch more recently reminded us. Mission might also be called the "mother of the church," the great task that believers have been given that binds them together, provides them nourishment, focuses their energies, heals their sinfulness and provides them with challenge and vision. In Luke's Gospel in particular, the Christian church grows out of the apostolic mission. Indeed, what makes the church is mission for the sake of the world.

One of the greatest Easter miracles is that the church discovers itself--that is, its mind is literally changed about itself--as it engages in missionary activity. Three dimensions of this changed mind are:

1. Israel's election was never for its own sake, but always so that, in it, all nations would receive a blessing (Genesis 12:3; Isaiah 45:1-8 and 49:1-6). Thus the church has been called and elected to be a blessing for all nations.

2. The church's mission has its roots in the ministry and person of Jesus. The church, in other words, is rooted in the mission and person of Jesus, who is both "evangel" (i.e. the gospel) and "evangelizer."

3. The church's mission grows out of the post-Resurrection faith of the first disciples--that they were called to proclaim Jesus' universal Lordship as risen Christ, through whom humanity has direct access to God.

It is the Easter proclamation that changes minds about God's activities in the world. Future leaders of the church need many things to prepare them for congregational mission. The list is long. Above all, a changed mind prepares a leader to imagine the future of the church's call.

Enjoy reading this edition of The Story and remember that changed minds are one of the most vital keys to the future of any congregation. That's the miracle of mission from an empty tomb.

Pax,

Richard Bliese