Many of us with a ‘good evangelical’ upbringing firmly believe that to be a Christian at all brings us into a relationship with God but also instils into us a responsibility to obey the great commission to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel’ Matthew 28:19.
In our evangelical heritage there has often been a polarisation between ‘doing evangelism’ or reaching out in social care and action. Many evangelicals were concerned about liberalism and a ‘social gospel’. Fortunately, this has changed and the younger members of CMF will most likely have been part of, or known about Christians reaching out in practical ways. Most of us understand that we are also commanded to love our neighbours as well as proclaim the gospel. Some still engage in social action with perhaps an unspoken or more overt agenda to bring people to Christ – introducing them to Jesus through care.
Chris Wright helpfully reminded us at a recent seminar about God’s great work throughout history, the ‘missional drama’ of Scripture. This meta narrative tells us where we ‘fit in’, shapes our worldview, and should align us with God’s mission.
Chris warned against polarising into
1.‘Holistic’ mission, which can sometimes become overly focused on human needs, treating mission as some therapeutic intervention that meets an immediate rather than eternal need. This is a very limited concept of mission.
2.’Missional church’, perhaps more focused on proclaiming the gospel where there can be dispute as to what is legitimately included in the church’s mission e.g. is healthcare a legitimate part of ‘gospel’ mission?
He proposed a simple model (based on the Anglican view at their Consultative Council of Mission in a Broken World in 1984 Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p49, Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p101) which includes a triple focus with the mission of God (missio dei) including individual persons, society and culture and creation.
‘All three [foci] are broken and suffering because of sin, all three are included in the redeeming love and mission of God, all three must be part of the comprehensive mission of God’s people’ (Cape Town Commitment 1.7.A)
Chris Wright linked these three foci together as follows
All these need to centre round the Lordship of Christ; that ‘gospel-centredness’ needs to be at the core of all mission. This impacts every area of brokenness. ‘Gospel’ is not simply a ‘telling’ word, but an all-embracing word of God at work in his world. As healthcare professionals, recognising the lordship of Christ, we therefore form part of the redeeming mission of God. In such ways, we live out the Lordship of Christ in and through our professional practice, making Christ known as and how we can.
Fi McLachlan is Head of CMF Global