“If we improve our schools, get people off of welfare, clean up the park, and plant trees in the neighborhood, but aren’t seeking to make disciples, we may bless our communities, but we are not accomplishing the church’s mission.” Emphasis added
This quote summarizes the main point being made in What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission.
There are many books addressing the role of social justice and evangelism in the area of missional thinking.
Some books argue that good works are “building the kingdom” as you bless the community, but authors DeYoung and Gilbert take issue with this concept.
Simply blessing the community with good works is nothing more than good works that any non-profit can do.
DeYoung and Gilbert lay out a strong case for the mission of the church in their well researched book What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission.
Unlike other missional books that I have read, this book digs deep into scripture and looks at the contexts of passages commonly cited for social justice causes.
DeYoung and Gilbert have excellent chapters on these topics, discussing how the church can be faithful in proclaiming the gospel while being involved in the community.
Chapter 4 looks at the question “What is the gospel?”
Some writers take wide angle angle approach to answering that question:
“The death and resurrection is a down payment on the transformation and renewal, the establishment of God’s kingdom.”
Others take a narrower definition (zoom lens):
“God acted to save sinners through the death of Jesus. . . focusing particularly on that with lies at the foundation of salvation.”
Authors DeYoung and Gilbert think these writers are answering two different but highly related questions. The gospel answers both questions.
“To proclaim the inauguration of the kingdom and all other blessing of God without telling people how they may become partakers fo those blessings is to preach a non-gospel.” (108)
“Jesus preached “The kingdom of God is at hand (wide angle lens). Repent and believe (zoom lens).”
What is the mission of the church?
By the end of the book, the authors have been very clear:
“The Great commission is the mission of the church.
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 gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Christ now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.” (241)
I recommend What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission for pastors and missional community leaders who are thinking about how to engage their community.
It’s easy to lose your gospel focus while serving, and this book is a great reminder of the ultimate purpose of our community engagement.
Note: The publisher provided me with a copy for review.
Order your copy of What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (Affiliate link) from Amazon.com.