Home Voices Shadow Side of Mission: Fostering Learning and Healing in Missions

Shadow Side of Mission: Fostering Learning and Healing in Missions

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I recently spoke at Missio Nexus next week in Orlando, FL. The theme is social transformation and the gospel, and they asked me to talk about some of the issues on the shadow side. You can still join us at Missio Nexus here.

As I was thinking about my topic, I wrote this article and thought I’d share it with you in three parts. This is Part 2. (Read Part 1 here.)

An important link between our identity as God’s missional people and our participation in God’s mission is the kingdom ethic that gives shape to the shared live of God’s holy, yet imperfect people.

What does it truly look like to live out the implications of God’s distinct nature and character in a fragmented, fallen world?

We Should Foster a Learning Community.

In Matthew 28:20, Jesus states that discipling others is an essential aspect of our mission. Genesis 18:19, an Old Testament Great Commission text affirms this central truth: “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” (emphasis added).

Wright reminds us of the importance of the first Great Commission where he states: “God’s people must be taught and must pass on that teaching about what it means to walk in God’s ways and demonstrate righteousness and justice. There is an unavoidable ethical dimension to the Mission of God’s people.”1

The foundation of Christian community rests on truth, essential for its survival; communities devoid of truth crumble. The prevailing culture of outrage I’ve written about highlights this. Amid a trend to “find personal truth,” the church’s role is to embrace the enduring truths of the Christian faith. Christian community is rooted in collective commitment to these doctrines, guiding life and transcending hobbies, politics, or culture. Jesus personifies truth as the way, life, and truth itself.

Our role is not to define but to uncover truth in Christ’s mission. A learning community centered on God’s truth, passing it on to others in a culturally appropriate way is of great importance to God’s mission and ours.

We Need to Embrace a Healing Posture.

Too often in our cultural moment is the church categorized as a place of hatred, division, and hypocrisy, rather than a community of love, purpose, and life. Our God is defined by a welcoming, redemptive, and loving posture toward his creation—a posture that brings hope and healing, rather than hatred and discord. Our Triune God reflects in his nature the unity, community, and diversity that should be lovingly on display among his people.

As people with a distinct kingdom ethic, we need to display a sense of discontinuity with the world’s agenda. In his discussion on the “going” aspects of the biblical mission, Wright posits that our “leaving and going” as followers of Jesus need not always refer to a geographical setting: 

Christians who commit themselves to the mission of God in the world have to start with a certain going out from the world. For we still live in the land of Babel and Sodom. We need to recognize the idolatrous nature of the world and its claims and ideologies.3

1 Wright, C.J.H. (2010). “The Mission of God’s People.” (Zondervan, Grand Rapids), 95.
2 Stetzer, Ed (2018). “Christians in the Age of Outrage.”
3Ibid, 78.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is the Dean of Talbot School of Theology at Biola Univeristy and Scholar in Residence & Teaching Pastor at Mariners Church. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches; trained pastors and church planters on six continents; earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates; and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the Editor-in-Chief of Outreach Magazine, and regularly writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. Dr. Stetzer is the host of "The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast," and his national radio show, "Ed Stetzer Live," airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates.