Perhaps certain words or images come to mind when thinking about the mission of the church:
We could say that a mission is basically the reason for one’s presence and the difference one hopes to make. For much the same reason the Canadian government created the Afghanistan360 exhibit seen around the country, there are important times when Christians must revisit the reason why we’re here and what difference we are hoping to make.
The mission frontier is no longer neatly divided between “Christian” parts of the world and non-Christian. Nowadays, the missionary frontier runs round the world. It crosses barriers which separate belief from unbelief, maturity from immaturity, justice from injustice, mercy from cruelty, and community from isolation. Mission takes place from and to all continents and within each nation, city, and town.
Still, it’s crucial to start with the assumption that God’s mission is greater than the activities of His church. Borrowing from Grenz’s (1994, p. 114) definition, “We may summarize God’s intention for the world by employing the term ‘community.’” Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share this, so also God’s mission is to bring the world to participation in “community.”
One of the most notable Greek words in the Bible is koinonia, which is often translated as “fellowship” or “community” in English Bibles. This term is generally thought to accompany the idea of participation in mutual, caring relationships. In the New Testament however, koinonia is also seen in the company of another important concept – partnership, specifically, “participation with another in some enterprise or matter of joint concern” (Louw and Nida, 1989).
Therefore, it appears that God’s ultimate intention or mission is to establish an eternal social reality for humankind. Currently, he is about this work by gathering people into and through the Church. God invites us to become involved with Him in this work – that’s koinonia, otherwise known as partnership!
Grenz, S. (1994). Theology for the community of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Broadman and Holman.
Louw, J. P. and Nida, E. A. (1989). Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. Vol. 1, New York, NY: United Bible Societies.