Building and Rebuilding the Foundation of Mission

building and rebuilding the foundation of mission

Japan is located in the world’s most active earthquake zone. Because of the many seismic activities that happen every year, constructing a skyscraper in Japan is a work of engineering. It is said that the foundation is the most critical aspect of building a skyscraper in Japan. The building foundation is very deep and made of cylinders of concrete, steel, or both that penetrate the earth until they reach a stable bedrock layer to prevent the building from sinking or toppling in an earthquake. The higher the building, the deeper the foundation.

The Lord has given the Body of Christ, a mandate for mission. It is essential to have a good foundation if we were to accomplish the task the Lord has commissioned us to do. There are critically important foundations the Church needs to recapture to build and rebuild. To do mission successfully, there are four essential foundations that we need to consider:

1. Biblical Foundation

The actual word mission is not found in the Bible. Neither are familiar words like trinity or rapture. These are all terms that represent concepts that are present in the Bible. However, we cannot study mission in the Scripture by looking at a concordance, though all Christians would agree that the concept of mission is in the Bible.

If mission is not in the concordance, are there direct ways to trace it? Are there other words that we can study? Is mission merely a minor theme in Scripture, or is it of major significance? Many Christians assume that mission begins with Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20: 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Jesus gave these clear marching orders to His followers before returning to His father. Yet, if we seriously examine the Bible, God gave these marching orders from the very beginning – in Genesis, all the way to Revelation.

Therefore, if the global mission is a topic of serious biblical concern, it should appear before Jesus’ last moments on earth. The Old Testament contains 75% of the Scriptures. Is mission found in the Old Testament? On the other hand, if mission is God’s “big idea” throughout the Bible, why don’t we preach and teach about it and talk about it more often? In our study of the Word, wouldn’t we have noticed such an important topic? Only very few theologians actually expound on such an idea.

Mission is more than just a minor addendum to God’s overall intent. Nor an optional ministry department in the Church. Mission is the very reason written Scripture needed to be given to us in the first place.

We need a missional reading of the Scripture using missional hermeneutics as our tools in developing a Biblical foundation for mission.

2. Historical Foundation

The presence of a mission mandate throughout Scripture becomes visible once we know what to look for. When this is understood, the mission theme connects Scripture into a meaningful whole. The Bible emerges as a singularly focused book instead of a seemingly scattered collection of laws, stories, poetry and chronologies. God’s goal is to reveal Himself not only to Israel but also to the nations. When His intention to reach all nations becomes clear, the Bible fits together sensibly and purposely.

If mission is the focus of all Scripture, then it must also become our focus. By studying biblical history with this understanding, we see these principles worked out in real time and human space. Looking at history in light of God’s global objectives transforms our view of what happened and why. A study of events that formerly seemed dry, dull, and tedious is now filled with relevant lessons.

3. Strategic Foundation

God is accomplishing His worldwide mission and instructing His kingdom people to join Him. His desire to reconcile nations to His loving rule is the primary moving force behind all history. Each of us has a part to play until His mission is completed. Having comprehended His plan in Scripture, we now move to the next step: finding our part and carrying it out in obedience to Him.

With a daring and dangerous charge before us, we need clear and well-thought-out plans and strategies. Some people think that having a strategy might prevent them from being led by the Lord or that it might put them in the position of “running ahead” of God’s will. But God is a strategic God. Made in His image, we are called to be strategic people. Rightly understood, strategies can come from Him and be used by Him. We must determine where the least-evangelized peoples are and then begin to strategize to reach them.

4. Cultural Foundation

Our mission foundations received light from many insights. First, God desires to reach all nations of the world with His truth. Next, He is working through the ages toward that end. Then He desires that His people connect with the remaining unreached peoples. Now we come to the challenge of culture.

Each of the people group who needs to receive God’s message has their unique way of life, its own distinct mode of operating, and its own ideas and stories. From their history, circumstances, and experiences, they have developed their particular culture. Simply reciting John 3:16 in their language will not suffice.

Missionaries shared John 3:16 in many animistic cultures, but people from these cultures were not concerned about love. They were concerned about protection from the spirit world, and until their needs were addressed, the gospel message was not of interest. When people from animistic cultures learned that Jesus had power over the spirit world, the message had value.

To successfully reach people from all nations in Canada and beyond, we must build or rebuild these four critical foundations for mission. Together as a Church, we can finish the global mission task in our generation!

Ike Agawin
ServeBeyond Director