Collected Thoughts on Mission

Mission from the Christian perspective is above all else, God’s mission, His passionate mission to save this world from the disaster of sin and death by the initiative of the Father in sending His only-begotten Son to take upon him a full human nature, to die as God, in that nature, and to send His Holy Spirit to dwell with His Church, the very fact of which makes us a people who are sent. We will never do mission better than He does, and we will never do it well if we are not clear that God is the actor, the prime mover, in mission. Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” (John 20:21) This word, translated “as” and “even so” is the Greek word καθὼς. It is the same word that we use in saying catholic. It means “according to” or “inasmuch as.”

The Savior appears on the day of his glorious Resurrection, and tells the disciples that they are “sent.” They are now apostles, sent in the same manner in which the Incarnation was effected, by the same power (the Holy Spirit) to the same people (of which Mary is the first, and later with the Church as her mother), and according to the same means - the proclamation of His Word.


Mission is not accomplished by some fanciful method, or innovation, or gimmick. Mission is accomplished by the initiative of God in working in and through His people by the Holy Spirit, in ways that are first incarnate, meaning in the flesh, and through the Word. Remember that Mary assents to the Divine Word, she assents to her divine Son, not to a message, not to an apologetic exposition, or a television commercial. Mission is, at once, because of this intersection between the incarnation and the word of God, sacramental and necessarily powered by divine grace, Word and Sacrament operating together to make the Church. The great theologian Henri de Lubac once wrote that in the first millennium, it was understood that the Eucharist makes the Church, but in the second millennium, it was thought that the Church makes the Eucharist. In the third millennium, we must go back to to the fathers, going back to go forward, and once again state emphatically that the constant sacramental encounter with Christ in the Eucharist is the source of the Church’s life, and therefore, the fuel for her mission. If the Eucharist is not, then someone other than Jesus is the object of mission, and it has become little more than an enticement to idolatry.


Because the Eucharist and the Holy Scriptures fuel the Church's mission, she is not afraid to engage each and every culture, not in fear, but in the boldness that comes from being rooted in the Truth as it is in Jesus Christ. God is not worried about how he will reach any given culture. He is the architect and power behind His mission to save the lost and the least.


Having said that, tools, methods, and ways, are worthless apart from hard work - and the Gospel is hard work. You can be equipped to the hilt with budgets, and methods, the perfect curricula, and the perfect facilities - but if you’re not willing to go out and make disciples day in and day out, in season and out of season, you’ll be dead on arrival. If you desire to undertake the call of God’s mission in the world, you have to stop complaining about being inadequately resourced, and both get equipped and get equipping the Saints for the work of ministry. You’ve got to get out of the boat, and trust in Jesus for the grace of His Holy Spirit to meet people in Incarnate ways with faithfulness to proclaim His Word, to proclaim Him - faithfully to the nations, fueled by the very source and summit of the Church’s life - the Eucharist.

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