Of dimensions and intentions

I am returning to the issue of the missionary nature of the Church and Stephen Neill’s assertion that if we say that everything the church does is mission then  “mission” becomes and meaningless term and we need to find another name for the Church’s “going out” from itself into the world. If everything is mission then nothing is mission.

I like to use Lesslie Newbigin’s idea of dividing the missionary nature of the Church into it missionary dimension and its missionary intention. The missionary dimension, as Bosch points out, is its worship and fellowship and its intention is its preaching and service to the world.

This means that worship of God has a “reaching out” dimension to it. The Psalmist called upon the nations to worship the LORD (Psalms 47: 67: 117). Fellowship is not mission but it is by the love that Christians have for one another that the world know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ (John 13:35).

I have often said that too much time and money are spent on the internal workings of the church and not enough on the external mission. I hold to this but when the internal dimensions to the church are seen in missionary perspective then they should feed the missionary intention of the church.