One of the key theological foundations in the missional conversation involves the concept of the missio Dei, or “mission of God.” It is God who has a mission to set things right in a broken world—to redeem and restore it to what was always intended.
Therefore, mission is not a program of the church. It is not something we invent. Mission is not something we initiate. Instead mission flows directly from the nature and purposes of a missionary God. It is not that the church has a mission; it is that God’s mission has a church. In other words, it is God’s mission, and the church is an instrument created by God to be sent into the world to join in his mission. This is a complete “game-changer” in several ways, but for now lets consider one.
A missio Dei perspective should challenge the church to rethink mission. Most congregations view missions as one activity among many other equally important functions of the church. Therefore, the missions program is seen alongside that of worship, small groups, women’s ministries, youth and children’s ministry, etc. When a church views missions in this way, the job of the mission committee is to determine where the missions’ budget should be spent, rather than seeing that everything the church does should be inform by God’s mission.
When the church begins to define itself as an agent of God’s mission, it will begin to organize every activity of the church around the missio Dei. Mission becomes the organizing principle, which means that mission goes beyond being some sort of optional activity for the church. But instead God’s mission is seen as
“the organizing axis of the church. The life of the church revolves around it. This is not to say that we don’t do corporate worship, develop community, and make disciples, but that these are catalyzed by and organized around the mission function. Only in this way can we be truly missional. Merely adding serving events or special outreach days to our church schedules will not develop missional people nor make a missional church.”[i]
Begin asking how would certain programs or activities of the church change if informed by God’s mission? How might small groups operate differently if shaped by God’s mission? How would the corporate teaching of Scripture be different? How might worship change?