But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the world. Acts 1:8
By Rev. Dr. Krikor Youmshajekian, President/CEO AMA-Australia
If we want to be missional churches and organizations with a clear vision, we should be continually considering the vitally important questions: “Why are we here?” and “What is our mission?” Sometimes churches misunderstand their task and instead of engaging in a vital mission, they change to a survival mode.
The Commission on Mission of the National Council of Churches in Australia has adopted the following statement about the nature of the mission in 1997:
Mission is the creating, reconciling and transforming action of God, flowing from the community of love found in the Trinity, made known to all humanity in the person of Jesus, and entrusted to the faithful action and witness of the people of God.
This statement expresses the conviction that Mission is the mission of God – the missio Dei. It is God’s mission which defines the church and not that the church generates mission. In other words, we should not say: “The church has a mission”, but rather “The mission has a church.” The church’s existence is deeply rooted in the mission of God and the church is the primary agent of the mission of God, which flows from the Trinitarian God to the people of God, which originates in the relatedness of the communal Godhead and reaches out to create and restore relationships with and within all creations.
The New Testament concept of community “koinonia” defines the Christian Church as all those who have Christ and His mission in common. The idea “spreading the Good News” is fundamental to the whole range of Christian traditions. God’s call is to all people (laos) of God and is called to be a Christ-like, making her highest priority to bring people to a vital relationship with Christ. The distinctive characteristics, calling and mission are the Proclamation of the Good News, Worship, Fellowship, Witness and Service.
Jesus empowered His followers, to preach, teach, heal and form a new community, an apostolate to go out and serve those who are in need, striving to treat people on equal basis, seeking to give a voice to the poor and the outcast. The task of the local congregation is to help ordinary people become engaged in that mystery, live that faith in the world, and be engaged in the mission.
The book of Acts is the story of those women and men, who took seriously the command of the Lord and begun to spread the Good News of His Resurrection. It presents the birth and the expansion of the church of Jesus Christ. But what was the essential reason for the success of the mission of the church? It is important to know how it was possible to bring the Good News of the Gospel to many people. How the church registered growth in its membership?
First. They prayed. In Luke we often read the following words; “They prayed” and “When they were praying.” It is clear that the first church was a praying church. They prayed for their needs and for the needs of others; they prayed for their leaders, the poor, the needy, and the sick and for their enemies. They always prayed and everywhere; alone and in small and large groups. Prayed persistently and tirelessly for their leaders, the weak and the needy, and for their own strength.
Second. Prayer brought unity and harmony. All the believers were gathered in one place. They prayed collectively. It is not possible to believe and not pray collectively and in unity. The unity of the church should not be based on the preacher, the elders, the programs or the buildings. They come and go. If the church believes, prays, teaches and preaches that Jesus is the Christ, it will certainly succeed in its mission.
Third. Unity gives result. Luke writes: “Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were saved” (Acts 2:47). It will be easy to say that their numbers were multiplied because of Peter’s sermon. If this is our conviction, then God could be so far from us. We can have very good programs, big groups, excellent facilities, volunteers and organizers; which are essential and important. But they are not what we need. We need prayer and unity. The church prayed, grew and prospered.
The praying church unites, grows and fills with the fear of God. This is the secret of the triumph of the church. Let us be a vital church with a clear vision for mission and ministry. Only then, we will be a Church in Mission or the Church of the Mission.
(Published in Jan-Feb-March 2020 issue of AMAA News)