I recommend Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert’s book, What is the Mission of the Church? It probes simple questions to deeper levels. They write that the mission of the church is
“to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gather these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father” (241).
I like that. The emphasis, as they write in the book is to share the Gospel, make disciples to establish churches for the glory of God. Good works, social justice, helping the financially poor, and making peace on earth are secondary, but not primary. They don’t swing the pendulum away from “good works”, but wrestle with the Biblical text.
Here is a long quote about evangelism I found helpful as they flesh out the mission of the church:
“Obviously it would be inaccurate to characterize Jesus and the apostles as nothing b sandwich-board fanatics with vacant stares screaming at people to repent or perish. It flattens the New Testament beyond recognition to make it one large tract about saving souls from hell. And yet, it would be closer to the truth to picture Jesus and the apostles (not to mention John the Baptist) passionately pleading with people to flee the wrath to come than it would be to imagine them laying out plans for cosmic renewal and helping people on their spiritual journeys. Anyone reading through the Gospels, Epistles and the Apocalypse with an open mind has to conclude that eternal life after death is the great reward for which we hope and eternal destruction after death is the dreadful judgement we should want to avoid at all costs. From John 3 to Romans 1 to 1 Thessalonians 4 to Revelation…well…all of it, scarcely a chapter goes by where God does not appear as the great Savior of the righteous and the righteous judge the wicked. There is a death for God’s children that should not be feared (Hebrews 2:14-15), and a second death for the ungodly that should be (Revelation 20:11-15)” (243).
They go on to write that the doctrine of hell is a “ballast for our ministry boats.” It gives us weight to keep us afloat as the local church (and every local church). This keeps us honest about the Gospel. If we loose this doctrine, we might flip the boat.
There is so much more to quote and comment about this book, but I will hold off for now.
What do you think?