Understanding Mission: An Ancient Work

In my last post, I shared the importance of clearly defining the mission of God with the people you are leading. We will not be able to get people on mission, unless everyone understands what God is doing in our world through the gospel. In the next three posts I want to share a few things that we are beginning to teach our church to help us better understand how we relate to and participate in mission.

At Redeemer, we want to be a family that understands that mission is an ancient work, we want to approach mission reactively and proactively, and we want to accept that mission happens in seasons. Lets start with Ancient Work.


From the moment that Adam and Eve sinned against God in the garden, it could be said that God’s missionary work began. It started when he pursued Adam and Eve in the garden and provided them with clothes to cover their shame, continued to a promise that through Abraham he would bless the nations, culminated in sending Jesus into the world and to the cross, and now sits with the church that has been tasked with making disciples of all nations. God’s commitment to his glory in all the earth is the foundation of our understanding and engaging of mission. What we must first realize and digest is that mission is God’s work and it is an ancient work. We must be certain that God is committed to accomplishing his purposes and he will bring it to completion!

I think that the enemy wants to make mission feel weighty to us. He wants us to feel burdened and overwhelmed by the task of making disciples of all nations. Are you familiar with this feeling? I once went on a short-term mission trip to Tokyo, Japan and while I was there I became overwhelmed with the reality that there were millions of people in this country that had never heard the gospel in their lives. As I tried to share my faith with people I remember thinking— there is no way I can lead these people to Christ…they believe in other gods and are clueless when I try and talk about Jesus. The truth of the matter was that I was right. There was no way I could do it. But God on the other hand, has promised from the beginning of time that he will accomplish his purpose of making disciples of all nations and he is doing it and will complete it (Ephesians 1:10)!

We must learn and believe that mission is not up to us. It is something that God has been doing throughout redemptive history and he is simply calling us into. Mission is more about our obedience as disciples than our production of disciples.  We must value missional obedience more than we value missional activity. This means that sometimes we will labor and see no fruit—but that is okay because God values our obedience. Other times we will immediately be thrown into a harvest—and we rejoice because we know that God has been doing something great and we got to share a small part in it. When we view mission as an ancient work of God, rather a new work of man, it isn’t burdensome or overwhelming to us. Instead, mission becomes about journeying with God, enjoying God, and joining God in his work to redeem and restore brokenness—and that is beautiful!

Some Questions to Consider

1. Do you feel overwhelmed or burdened when you think about living on mission? What is making you feel this way? Sin, lack of equipping, wrong perspective?

2. Does the task of making disciples in your neighborhood or city seem impossible to you? Do you need to repent of thinking it is your work(a new work) rather than the Spirit’s work(an ancient work)?

3. How does the truth that God is at work and has been at work in your city relieve you of missional stress and pressure? (Our job is to investigate where we can join HIM in what he is doing. A good missionary is a good investigator!)

4. What do you (or your MC) need to do in order to investigate where you can join God’s ancient work in your neighborhood/city? Do you need to spend time praying, listening, learning stories of people who live in your area? How are you going to do this?

5. Do you value obedience over production? What if God asks you to labor for 5 years in your neighborhood without any “results”— would you be okay with that?

4 thoughts on “Understanding Mission: An Ancient Work”

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