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I. Missio Dei (God’s Mission)
A focusing biblical text: John 17: 20-21
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Description of Missio Dei
The United Church of Christ was birthed in a time when church union and efforts for visible church unity was understood as “for the sake of mission.” The mission theology expressed in the Latin Missio Dei articulates the belief that mission is God’s mission and we are God’s instruments in that mission. The starting point of Missio Dei is a Trinitarian God: mission is the purpose and action of the triune God. The internal relationships of the Trinity also embody the way God acts in the world.
II. God’s Mission in the World –
“The Church in Mission is the
Church for Others”
A focusing biblical text: Exodus 3: 7-12
Then God said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ God said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’”
Description of “the Church for Others”
The growing closeness of the Church and mission means that the whole Church and every part of the Church is involved in mission. The location of God’s mission is deemed to be the world. An interpretation of world events is a determining factor for mission because the world is the locus of the continuing encounter between God and humanity. Instead of the Church as a starting point for the action of mission that involves God and moves to the world, God is understood as the instigator of mission directly in the world. God invites the Church to participate in that mission.
III. Toward More Mutual Relationships
in the Global Church
A focusing biblical text: Philippians 2: 5-8
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.”
Description of More Mutual Relationships in the Global Church
God’s mission in the world in which the whole church participates in a context of new nations, creates the context for an intentional re-examination of the role of partnerships and relations among churches and people in different parts of the world. For mission organizations in the West, used to ‘being in charge’ a realization that the church is global and diverse means a challenge to re-direct the starting point and practice of mission.
IV. Mission as Economic Liberation and
A focusing biblical text: Luke 4: 16-21
“When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Description of Mission as Economic Liberation and
This mission emphasis assumes God’s mission is directly in the world and recognizes interconnected global realities and relationships. An increasing breadth of what mission includes leads to more emphasis on identifying root causes of problems.
God’s action is identified especially among people in situations of political and economic oppression who live in the peripheries of society. Also in this emphasis, racial and ethnic identity are recognized as interconnected with such oppression and thus identity is integral to liberation. Key terms such as justice, liberation, solidarity, accompaniment, indigenization, inculturation, contextualization, and local theologies become important.
V. Mission as Reconciliation
A focusing biblical text: Revelation 21: 1, 5:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more….And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.”
A focusing biblical text: Matthew 5: 14-16:
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Description of Mission as Reconciliation
The scope of mission continues to expand so that not only all of the human world, but all of creation is considered the object and subject of God’s mission. The interrelatedness of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation (JPIC) provides the web in which this wholistic mission operates. This emphasis calls for discernment between unjust structures needing to be replaced and the disrupted creation and situations that call for a restoration of wholeness, repaired relationships and healing.
Reconciliation as a mission emphasis engages hurting people and situations of oppression for the purpose of promoting peace with justice. Reconciliation as a foci encourages concrete steps toward the communion of all of humanity and creation with God and one another.