We Are a Missional People
We are a sent people, responding to the call of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to go into all the world, witnessing to the Lordship of Christ and participating with God in the building of the Church and the extension of His kingdom (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:1). Our mission (a) begins in worship, (b) ministers to the world in evangelism and compassion, (c) encourages believers toward Christian maturity through discipleship, and (d) prepares women and men for Christian service through Christian higher education.
A. Our Mission of Worship
The mission of the Church in the world begins in worship. As we are gathered together before God in worship-singing, hearing the public reading of the Bible, giving our tithes and offerings, praying, hearing the preached Word, baptizing, and sharing the Lord’s Supper-we know most clearly what it means to be the people of God. Our belief that the work of God in the world is accomplished primarily through worshiping congregations leads us to understand that our mission includes the receiving of new members into the fellowship of the church and the organizing of new worshiping congregations.
Worship is the highest expression of our love for God. It is God-centered adoration honoring the One who in grace and mercy redeems us. The primary context for worship is the local church where God’s people gather, not in self-centered experience or for self-glorification but rather in self-surrender and self-offering. Worship is the church in loving, obedient service to God.
Worship is the first privilege and responsibility of God’s people. It is the gathering of the covenant community before God in proclamation and celebrative response of who He is, what He has done, and what He promises to do.
The local church in worship is at the core of our identity. The Church of the Nazarene is essentially local worshiping congregations, and it is in and through the local congregation that our mission is fulfilled. The mission of the church finds its meaning and orientation in worship. It is in the preaching of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments, the public reading of the Scripture, the singing of hymns and choruses, corporate prayer, and the presenting of our tithes and offerings that we know most clearly what it means to be the people of God. It is in worship that we understand most clearly what it means to participate with God in the work of redemption.
B. Our Mission of Compassion and Evangelism
As people who are consecrated to God, we share His love for the lost and His compassion for the poor and broken. The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) move us to engage the world in evangelism, compassion, and justice. To this end we are committed to inviting people to faith, to caring for those in need, to standing against injustice and with the oppressed, to working to protect and preserve the resources of God’s creation, and to including in our fellowship all who will call upon the name of the Lord.
Through its mission in the world, the Church demonstrates the love of God. The story of the Bible is the story of God reconciling the world to himself, ultimately through Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). The Church is sent into the world to participate with God in this ministry of love and reconciliation through evangelism, compassion, and justice.
Both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment are central to the understanding of our mission. They are two expressions of a single mission, two dimensions of the one gospel message. Jesus, who directs us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39), also tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
The mission of the Church in the world extends to all humanity, as all people, being created in the image of God, have ultimate value. It is our mission to love and value people as they are loved and valued by God, who seeks to bring them peace, justice, and salvation from sin through Christ. It is our mission to have compassion upon and to care for those in need. It is our mission to oppose social systems and policies that devalue or disempower people.
The mission of the Church extends to the whole person. God has created us as whole persons, and it is our mission to be ministers of God’s love to people as whole persons-body, soul, and spirit. Our mission of evangelism, compassion, and justice is a single integrated mission, engaging people in their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
The mission of the Church in the world extends to all humanity because Jesus Christ has come into the world to save all who call upon His name. As the people of God, it is our privilege and responsibility to share the good news of the gospel with all who will hear. Whether in public services or in personal one-on-one witnessing, our passion is to take every opportunity to invite people to faith in Jesus Christ.
The mission of the Church in the world extends to all people because the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was poured out upon all humanity (Acts 2). It is our mission to present the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to every person on earth. We are empowered by the Spirit to go into the world proclaiming the Kingdom and participating with God in the building of the Church.
It is with a spirit of hope and optimism that we engage our God-given mission in the world. It is more than an expression of human concern or human effort. Our mission is a response to God’s call. It is our participation with God in the Kingdom mission of reconciliation. It is the Church’s faithful witness to and expression of the love of God in the world in evangelism, compassion, and justice. It is our faith in the ability of God’s grace to transform the lives of people broken by sin and to restore them in His own image.
C. Our Mission of Discipleship
We are committed to being disciples of Jesus and to inviting others to become His disciples. With this in mind, we are committed to providing the means (Sunday School, Bible studies, small accountability groups, etc.) through which believers are encouraged to grow in their understanding of the Christian faith and in their relationship with each other and with God. We understand discipleship to include submitting ourselves to obeying God and to the disciplines of the faith. We believe we are to help each other live the holy life through mutual support, Christian fellowship, and loving accountability. John Wesley said, “God has given us to each other to strengthen each other’s hands.”
Christian discipleship is a way of life. It is the process of learning how God would have us live in the world. As we learn to live in obedience to the Word of God, in submission to the disciplines of the faith, and in accountability to one another, we begin to understand the true joy of the disciplined life and the Christian meaning of freedom. Discipleship is not merely human effort, submitting to rules and regulations. It is the means through which the Holy Spirit gradually brings us to maturity in Christ. It is through discipleship that we become people of Christian character. The ultimate goal of discipleship is to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
By studying and meditating on the Scriptures, Christians discover fountains of refreshment in every thirsty valley on their discipleship journey. Invigorated by the washing of the Word, refined by immersion in the Word, drinking deeply the truths of the Word, disciples discover to their happy surprise that they are being “transformed by the renewing of [their] mind” (Romans 12:2). The Christian way opens before them like a high and open road. Nerved by God, they proceed on a way of life that eclipses mere human and cultural values. Refreshed by the fountain of the Word, disciples give their lives away in self-transcending service.
We affirm the life-giving value of the classic spiritual disciplines in the training of women and men as disciples of Christ. The disciplines of prayer and fasting, worship, study solitude, service, and simplicity are at the same time natural expressions and intentional commitments in the life of the believer.
Discipleship requires mutual support and loving accountability. On our own, few of us will develop the spiritual disciplines that lead to Christian maturity. We believe that we are to encourage the mutual support provided through such means as Sunday School classes, discipleship groups, Bible study groups, prayer meetings, accountability groups, and Christian mentoring as necessary to our spiritual formation and maturity. Recognizing the role of accountability in the Wesleyan class meetings encourages us to support its place within the contemporary Christian congregation.
D. Our Mission of Christian Higher Education
We are committed to Christian education, through which women and men are equipped for lives of Christian service. In our seminaries, Bible colleges, colleges, and universities, we are committed to the pursuit of knowledge, the development of Christian character, and the equipping of leaders to accomplish our God-given calling of serving in the Church and in the world.
Christian higher education is a central part of the mission of the Church of the Nazarene. In the early years of the Church of the Nazarene, institutions of Christian higher education were organized for the purpose of preparing women and men of God for leadership and Christian service in the global spread of the Wesleyan-Holiness revival. Our continued commitment to Christian higher education through the years has produced a worldwide network of seminaries, Bible schools, colleges, and universities.
Our mission of Christian higher education comes directly out of what it means to be God’s people. We are to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind. We are therefore to be good stewards in the development of our minds, of our academic resources, and in the application of our knowledge. In this light, we are committed to the open and honest pursuit of knowledge and truth coupled with the integrity of our Christian faith. Christian higher education is an essential arena for the development of the stewardship of our minds. It is intended to be an arena characterized by the discussion and discovery of truth and knowledge about God and all of God’s creation.
In Christian higher education, faith is not compartmentalized but rather is wonderfully integrated with knowledge as faith and learning are developed together. The whole person is cultivated with every area of thought and life understood in relationship to the desire and design of God. Christian character and the equipping of Christian leaders for service in the church and the world are forged in the context of learning about God, humanity, and the world. This commitment of Christian higher education to the formation of the whole person is critical for the development of Christian men and women for missional leadership in the church and the world.
As a redeemed people called to Christlikeness and sent as agents of God’s love in the world, we participate with God in the work of redeeming humanity. Christian higher education contributes significantly to our ability to fulfill our mission and is necessary for effective service to God in our various vocations. Our faithful participation in God’s redemptive work requires that we raise up men and women of God who can take their place as Christian servant leaders in the church and in the world.
The world in which we are called to serve is becoming more closely connected and more profoundly complicated each day. As God’s work of redemption advances in present and future generations, our faithful witness to the Lordship of Christ and effective participation with God in the building of the church will continue to require a vital commitment to Christian higher education.
All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.