7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. --Matthew 10:7-8
What's at the heart of what you seek to accomplish? What is absolutely the essence of your life? These are the kinds of questions I've been asking about our church as I've been praying for clarity of vision over the past several months.
The verses above come from the words of Jesus to the twelve before he sent them out on a ministry. In many ways, they capture not only the essence of the earthly ministry of Jesus, but the essence of mission of the church.
However, proclamation and demonstrations of kingdom power are only part of the mission of the church. Probably the simplest statement of the mission of the Church is found at the end of Matthew where Jesus sends his disciples to proclaim, baptize and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).
SO, beyond proclamation and kingdom signs, the Church's mission is essentially found in the transformation of individual lives (the essential message of baptism), as they move toward increasing obedience to the commands of Jesus.
What is the essential mission of the Church and therefore of every local expression of the church? Proclaiming God's kingdom and teaching obedience to God's word for the transformation of individual lives.