Kingdom People Living by Kingdom Principles – Part 2

As we deal with the issue of living out the missional call  the Church has to effectively deal with the attitudes of the congregation to be more “holistic” in their approach to missions, while being theologically consistent with the Biblical mandates. It will require an understanding of the theology as it relates to missions: Church, world and Kingdom of God, this is call the holistic approach.  There are several themes that are illustrated in the Bible relating to different aspects of missions that can be seen throughout Church history as documented by Henry Chadwick in his book The Early Church.[1]  Two of these themes are the understanding of the main object of mission and the structures involved.  Jan A. B. Jongeneel also defines these in his book, Philosophy, Science, And Theology of Mission in the 19th And 20th Centuries.[2]  We have to have a solid theological foundation that rest on the gospel message dealing with the Great Commandment, Commission and Compassion.[3]

It is therefore helpful to explore some of the definitions that are used to define missions, since these definitions are somewhat slanted to the theological view of the authors; it is pertinent for anyone or group that is embarking on the journey of being missional to posit a working definition that will follow them throughout their journey.  One cannot define missions without defining the Kingdom of God.  As we seek to clearly articulate this meaning it will be helpful to consider these meanings as they relate to eschatology (study of end times) and the ecclesiasticalogy (study of the church).  Entrance into the Kingdom of God is clearly defined in scriptures; what is its meaning within this context of your journey?  Of a fact, the full gospel message is about is about Restoration is the focus of the new era; Gabe Lyons in his book The next Christians spoke about telling the full gospel story, God’s story: creation, fall, redemption, restoration and ultimately consummation.[4]

Church History is a hidden treasure of practical and demonstrative information relating to missions and the Church’s understanding and application of missions.  The early Church took the commission very seriously because they believed that Jesus would return in their lifetime; armed with this conviction they wanted to take the gospel message to the entire world as they knew it.  The foundation of the early Church was about advancing the Kingdom of God by spreading the gospel message.  Throughout Church history there were many who benefited from the advancement of the gospel and they were sometimes willing supporters because of other reasons apart from the gospel.  What they found were that people were converted into the Kingdom of God and living a life that was admirable and these new converts became responsible citizens, workers, neighbors, and employees.

In the first 100 years we saw the purely Jewish Christian Church developed into the majority Gentile Church.  It was the Apostles’ commitment to the Great Commission empowered by the Holy Spirit that led to the spread of Christianity during this time.  They were also obeying the Great Commandment and demonstrating Compassion but the foundation of their missional quest was the Gospel Message.  Later, The Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church took up a similar thrust and once again missions were at the forefront of their endeavors.  The birth of Protestantism came from a desire to become more like the Christ of the Bible.  They originally were not actively involved in missions because of their efforts to codify their doctrines during the reformation.  On the other hand, the benefits of their sound doctrines and the codification of these doctrines was the catalyst for the future generations of Protestantism who were now adequately armed.  Their desire for missions as their focus, led to the spread of the Gospel everywhere they went.  While the effect of their actions was originally felt in the west and the subsequent colonies, it later spread throughout the rest of the world, literally.  Historically missions had at its core the gospel message; everything was done to advance the gospel.

We more forward to the Great revivals and the birth of Pentecostalism where these periods were marked by the desire to be like the Christ of the Bible and those involved in these movements participated in missions, as they perceived it with emphasis on the gospel.   There is an ongoing struggle for those who are seeking to be true to Jesus’ command to present a holistic missional approach to the gospel.  As the Church grew, some sections were more tilted towards just the commission, others were more tilted towards compassion and still others were more focused on the commandments.  However, there is a consistent theme that undergirds all of the generations throughout Church history and that is missions’ main purpose is to bring the gospel message to all those who have not yet received it.  These missionaries would travel to foreign countries and suffer great feats determined to see the natives transformed and accept the message they brought.  They were holistic in their approaches; focusing on the Great Commandment, Commission, and Compassion.  The holistic approach to missions is necessary to fulfill the call of God on our lives.

[1] For a more detail information on this subject read Henry Chadwick book, The Early Church (The Penguin History of the Church), (Revised ed. Boston: Penguin (Non-Classics), 1993), 13-20.

[2] Jan A. B Jongeneel, Philosophy, Science, and Theology of Mission in  the 19th And 20th Centuries: A Missiological Encyclopedia: The Philosophy And Science Of Mission (Studies in the Intercultural History of Christianity), (2nd Rev ed. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2002), 88-93.

[3] See Ed Stetzer’s post at for a look at some efforts to define missions.

[4] Gabe Lyons, The next Christians: the good news about the end of Christian America. New York: Doubleday Religion, 2010.

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