Transformed by Missions: Studies in the Sacrificial, Formational, Holistic, and Transformational Aspects of Missions
The work of missions has been integral to the church’s identity since Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples, to teach, to baptize, and to tend to the needs of his people. In the long history of the church, missions is a complicated story full of both success and failure. It is also an aspect of the church’s identity that has at times been misunderstood, even by those within the church. This project is a response to one local congregation whose attitudes about and participation in missions revealed an opportunity to develop a more complete understanding of missions.
Using Jesus’ last words to his disciples and the apostle Paul’s writings to the church at Corinth, this project builds the case that biblical missions is sacrificial, formational, holistic, and transformational. In Luke-Acts, Jesus tells the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit before they go into all the world. They sacrifice their control, their comfort, and their preferences. In Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples not merely to go into the world, but to make disciples as they go, by baptizing and teaching. Their work is formational, as they make more disciples in the same way Jesus formed them. In John, Jesus tells Peter to tend to the physical needs of his people. The work of Peter and all subsequent disciples of Jesus is to treat the needs of others holistically, nurturing the body as well as the soul. Finally, in 2 Corinthians, Paul explains to the Corinthians how giving to the collection for Jerusalem will open the door for their own transformation. This transformation – more than the benefit to the believers in Jerusalem – is what Paul puts forward as a motivation for benevolence.
Taken together, these four truths about missions paint a picture of how and why the modern church still ought to engage in missions. The product that came out of this congregational and biblical research is a 4-session Bible study with Leader Guides that is designed to teach each of these truths. At the culmination, the Bible study participants will have the opportunity to learn more about specific missions opportunities and to find a way engage in missions through the local church.
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