A Missional Primer
By Chris DiVietro
Our denomination – a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians – ranks “missional” as one of its core defining values. However, what exactly does missional mean?
Appearing to the disciples after His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father as sent me, even so I am sending you.” As God sent Jesus into the world, so too does Jesus now send the church into the world.
And here is where our current blog series intersects with the church today. If the Old Testament modus operandi of God’s people was attractional in nature—centripetal— than the New Testament paradigm is centrifugal—God’s people are sent into the world to worship as opposed to calling the world to the worship at one location. As God sent the Son into the world, so too is the church sent; at their very core, Christians are sent people—missionary people.
The Great Commission texts in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt 28:16; Mark 13:10; 14:9; Luke 24:44-49) are much more than a collection of Jesus’ final words before He ascended into Heaven. The Great Commission texts contain specific directives for how the disciples were to go out into the world with the Gospel. Matthew’s version of the Great Commission has the disciples acting on the authority of Jesus (v. 18) and going to all people groups to baptize and teach (vv. 19-20); the disciples are to be disciples who make disciples. Mark 13:10 and 14:9 not only predict the Gospel will be proclaimed, but direct that it must. Luke’s account is complementary to Matthew’s, adding the caveat that the disciples are empowered by the Spirit to be Jesus’ witnesses (24:48).
What does it mean for the church to exist as a sent people? As a missionary people? We’ll discuss what implications this has for the church in our next and final post in this series.