The Starting Place For Mission

The missional conversation must not begin with the mission of our church but with God and His mission. Brad Brisco beautifully expounds on this in his book, Missional Quest. He writes, 

When we think of the attributes of God, we most often think of characteristics such as holiness, sovereignty, wisdom, justice, love and so on. Rarely do we think of God’s missionary nature. But Scripture teaches that God is a missionary God—a sending God. What’s more, the Bible is a missionary book. Scripture is generated by and is all about God’s mission activity. The word mission is derived from the Latin missio, meaning “sending.” And it is the central theme describing God’s activity throughout all of history to restore creation. While often overlooked, one remarkable illustration in Scripture of God’s missionary nature is found in the “sending language” that is prominent throughout the Bible. From God’s sending of Abram in Genesis 12 to the sending of his angel in Revelation 22, there are literally hundreds of examples that portray God as a missionary, sending God. In the Old Testament God is presented as the sovereign Lord who sends in order to express and complete his redemptive mission. The Hebrew verb “to send,” shelach, is found nearly eight hundred times. While it is most often used in a variety of nontheological sayings and phrases, it is employed more than two hundred times with God as the subject of the verb. In other words, it is God who commissions and it is God who sends.

In the New Testament, sending language is found not only in the Gospels but also throughout the book of Acts and each of the Epistles. The most comprehensive collection of sending language, however, is found in the Gospel of John, where the word send or sent is used nearly sixty times. The majority of uses refers to the title of God as “one who sends” and of Jesus as the “one who is sent.” All the way through John’s Gospel we see God the Father sending the Son. God the Father and the Son sending the Spirit. And God the Father, Son and Spirit sending the church. In the final climactic sending passage in John’s Gospel, Jesus makes clear that he is not only sent by the Father, but now he is the sender, as he sends the disciples: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Jn 20:21). With this sentence Jesus is doing much more than drawing a vague parallel between his mission and ours. Deliberately and precisely he is making his mission the model for ours. Our understanding of the church’s mission must flow from our understanding of Jesus’ mission as reflected in the Gospels.

The sending language in Scripture not only emphasizes the missionary nature of God, but it also stresses the importance of understanding the church as a sent, missionary body. God is a missionary God who sends a missionary church. As Jesus was sent into the world, we too are sent into the world.
— Ford, Lance; Brisco, Brad. The Missional Quest: Becoming a Church of the Long Run (p. 26). InterVarsity Press.

God is a sending God and we, His people, have been sent. Just as God’s missionary nature is core to who He is, our missionary identity or our “sentness” is core to who we are. Sometimes this means that we are sent to a new place or people but more often than not we have already been sent to the everyday spaces and places of our lives. Where are the everyday spaces and places you spend your time? What would change if you saw these places as your mission field?

Begin praying that God would give you clarity & discernment so that you might answer this question, “To whom have you been sent?” This could be a people group or place. Some examples of this might be:

  • Families of my child’s sports team
  • My school
  • My workplace
  • My neighborhood, or more specifically my street or block
  • My apartment complex
  • The PTA I am involved in
  • The coffee shop I go to do my work
  • My gym, crossfit, or bootcamp
  • Economic or Cultural group
  • Etc.