In a previous post on Defining Missional, I talked about the importance of Francis DuBose and his book, God Who Sends.
One of the little known but immensely important books in the missional conversation is God Who Sends by Francis DuBose. It offers an overview of the missional church, bringing people into an understanding for their need for personal repentance and to place their faith in Christ for salvation. God Who Sends is constructed to offer a biblical overview in which DuBose carefully, though concisely, moves through the Scriptures progressively. It is a difficult book to find but if you can put your hands on one, get it!
Let me share a passage from DuBose’s book that has becoming particularly important to me over the last week.
“The church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning.” (1) This statement by Emil Brunner has become perhaps the most quoted statement about the relationship of mission and the church in recent decades. It captures in succinct and graphic terms the inextricable relationship between mission and the church. Where there is no flame, there is no fire. Where there is no mission, there is no church.
Karl Barth clearly links the mission of the church with the concept of the sending. He calls the sending the “true and original sense” of mission. (2) In his volume on The Doctrine of Reconciliation, he has an extensive section on “The Holy Spirit and the Sending of the Christian Community.” (3)
Johannes Blauw says: “There is no other church than the church sent into the world, and there is no other mission than that of the church of Christ.” (4) This statement is biblical as regards the essentialness of mission to the church, but not as regards the essentialness of the church to mission.
Jürgen Moltmann has captured both the intent and content of Scripture in saying that “mission does not come from the church; it is from mission and in the light of mission that the church has to be understood.” (5) The church does not create mission; mission creates the church. In mission the church has its identity and purpose.
Moreover, Moltmann sees the church as sent in terms of the ultimate missional purpose of God: “If the church sees itself to be sent in the framework of the Father’s sending of the Son and the Holy Spirit, then it also sees itself in the framework of God’s history with the world and discovers its place and function within this history” (6)
- H. Emil Brunner, The Word and the World (London: SCM Press, 1931), p. 108.
- God Who Sends, p. 27.
- Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol. IV, 3, ii, trans. G. W. Bromiley (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1962), pp. 681 ff.
- Johannes Blauw, The Missionary Nature of the Church (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1962), p. 121.
- Jürgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit, trans. Margaret Kohl (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1977), p.10.
- Ibid., p. 11.