Meeting Without Mission

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If the church had no mission, would it still meet?

If the church had no mission, would it still meet?

On July 22, 2012, David Goeser went missing. He was a 22-year-old UCLA student. His car was found in Pacific Palsades, near Los Angeles. Within 48 hours search efforts included the entire western coast.

David’s dad, Mark Goeser, said in the midst of the search, “One of the things that I’ve observed since my son has been lost is how these groups that search for the lost (like Search and Rescue teams) have nothing in common except for the commitment to the mission: to find the lost. Without that mission they’d never be drawn together. Yet with this mission to find the lost they have a deep sense of community. They all share a common experience of tremendous loss — or the joy of finding someone! And yet it seems that in many churches today, if you took away their mission to find the lost, they would keep on meeting together for the sake of community.”

The effort to find Mark’s son had brought together hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people. That is the power of a mission. Unfortunately the team’s efforts did not end the way they had hoped. Two months later, on September 22, David’s body was found.

When you read the rebuke of the leaders of Israel in Ezekiel 34, the rebuke was not because they failed to foster community. Ezekiel 34:6 says, “My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.” The leaders were called to task for failing to seek the lost, in the way a shepherd would his sheep.

Jesus said his mission was search and rescue. He said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus had a mission and formed a community around that mission.

With a mission to seek the lost, a deep sense of community will be found. With a mission to seek community, a commitment to seek the lost is rarely found.

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Mission Questions > Mission Statements

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Some form of Jesus’ statement

The church is God’s people. Since the church is God’s, it makes sense that he would define her purpose. The purpose, or mission, can be worded a lot of ways, but it will be some form of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus’ followers are to help others from every nation follow his way of life.

Mission statements are valuable

A lot of time is devoted to mission statements. There is a desire for it to be memorable and catchy. I think mission statements are valuable. Jesus obviously did too or he wouldn’t have given one! They point the direction everyone should be heading. They, also, answer the most important question anyone asks: Why?

More mission questions

That sets up the point I want to make. If we already have the mandate (some form of Make disciples of all nations), maybe we need mission questions instead of a mission statement. Like I said, mission statements determine the direction, but it isn’t the direction that is the ultimate concern – the destination is.

Hang a question mark

A mission is meant to be accomplished. People on a mission like to know they are making a difference. Mission questions, not mission statements, help us know if the direction we are heading is still aimed at our destination. Someone once said, “In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you take for granted.” What would it do to hang a question mark on the end of the Great Commission?

Other questions appear

Let’s try this out on the core of the Great Commission: Make disciples of all nations? At once, other questions appear and assumptions are challenged.

  • How are we to make disciples?
  • What is a disciple?
  • Do we have a vision for the nations?

Mission questions can provoke us to ask even more basic questions, such as:

  • Is this my mission?
  • Are we making disciples?
  • Is the team on this mission together?

Mission drift is real. It takes no effort. That’s why it is called mission drift. Without trying and usually without noticing, a person, team, or church can go off course from its original purpose. A question, though, has the power to snap us back in the direction of our intended destination.


What would happen if you hung a question mark on the end of your mission statement?

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Book Summary: The Global Gospel

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This is from the March Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

  • 52 book reviews (electronically delivered – 1 per week)
  • 36 book summaries (electronically delivered – 3 per month)
  • 24 live webinars (average 2 per month)
  • 12 author interviews (monthly mp3 downloads)
  • 6 Global Issues Updates (bi-monthly downloadable webinar)
  • 3 Web Workshops (4-6 week training series)
  • discounted access to the most extensive library of mission-focused webinars in the English language
  • discounted access to three annual live conferences

Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the March edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary Werner Mischke’s book The Global Gospel. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation

The Global Gospel: Achieving Missional Impact in Our Multicultural World

Author: Werner Mischke

Published by Mission ONE,Scottsdale, AZ, 2015, 352 pages. (ISBN: 978- 0984812868)

Available in Kindle format. (ASIN: B00QCW1B1M)


Biblically-based and well researched, this book is a compelling read that helps frame the gospel in the unique social dynamics of honor and shame – something we in the West so often miss. This is more than a book. It is a full-fledged course on biblically-based cross-cultural communication containing graphics, charts, and diagrams which forcefully illustrate Mischke’s insightful principles of sharing the gospel cross-culturally.

 Best chapter

The book is divided into four sections. Although difficult to choose, chapter 5 of Section One, “Does It Hurt or Does it Heal,” is selected as the best chapter, simply because it summarizes nicely for the Western reader the differences between guilt and shame based cultures. Several illustrative diagrams help the reader see these distinctions.

Best quotes

“The primary social value of the ancient Middle East in the Bible is the pivotal cultural value of honor and shame; knowing this will provide a new perspective…help you and your church be more faithful to God’s Word now for a more effective ministry in our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural world.” Page 38

“If Christian theology is Western while his or her cultural context is Majority World – Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Latin American (or other honor/shame culture) –then to ignore the theological/cultural matter of honor and shame comprises a blind spot which hinders the missional impact of the gospel.” Page 60

“Simply stated, shame is about who I am; guilt is about what I’ve done. It follows… that shame is generally more painful than guilt.” Page 63

“Many mission and culture leaders recognize that Majority World peoples have honor and shame as their pivotal cultural value. Could it be that when Christians present the gospel of Christ to Majority World peoples in a way that only addresses humanity’s guilt before God, that resistance to the message of Christ’s gospel may be easier to understand?” Page 64

“What we have seen is that shame is more likely to lead to hurtful behavior, whereas guilt is more likely to lead to healing behavior. The pathology of shame for individuals and families can be terrible and impact generations. But when the pathology of shame impacts whole societies and nations, it becomes truly horrendous.” Page 69

“When you read the Bible with an awareness of this emotional landscape – the love of/longing for honor and fear of shame – God’s Word simply makes more sense and it has more impact. I contend that by incorporating the emotional variable in Scripture interpretation, you will come closer to understanding how the original authors and hearers of Scriptures would have experienced God’s Word.” Page 91

“Every communication of gospel content, including the very kernel of the gospel, contains cultural assumptions and ideas which, first of all, resonate with the culture of the messenger (preacher, missionary, believer). The question is whether it also resonates with the people with whom the messenger is communicating.” Page 217

“Therefore, when it comes to the Bible’s honor/shame dynamics, I contend that the effect of knowing the applicable social science would be just the opposite of ‘leavening the dough of its missiology.’ For it is through the use of social science that we uncover a major blind spot and gain a more authentic reading of Scripture by which to appreciate its ancient cultural values. Does this not help us convey with greater authority the original meaning of God’s Word?” Page 310

Best illustration

“We must obviously agree that eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ is not to be taken literally. However, if in ancient Hebrew and Greek culture ‘blood replicates the honor of the family,’ then I must ask: Could it be that when Jesus told his disciples to ‘drink his blood,’ he was saying that his followers should trust and believe in his life and atonement so deeply, so comprehensively, that his very honor would be spiritually ingested into their own lives?” Page 158

 Best idea

“Most Western presentations of the gospel assume that the primary felt need of all humanity is the alleviation of guilt from sin, and that the cross of Christ addresses this need. But this derives from a Western theological bias. Instead, why not begin a ‘gospel message’ with the assumption of humanity’s longing for glory and honor, and correspondingly, the alleviation of shame?” Page 220

 Best take away

“I agree with Jackson Wu who simply states: ‘The gospel is already contextualized for honor/shame cultures,’ and, ‘honor and shame are built into the framework of the gospel itself.’ This means that the global gospel of Jesus Christ has the potential to resonate with the peoples of our multicultural world – and with persons struggling with shame – perhaps far more than we ever realized.” Page 278


All cross-cultural workers in this multicultural world would “reset” their outreach strategies after reading this book. It does not matter what area of the world one works, this book brings an eye-opening guide as to how to formulate appropriate ministry through honor/shame considerations. For more about this book go to:


Visit Missio Nexus to learn more about their Leader’s Edge Book Summaries and their other resources.

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Get Up and Go Out

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Mark Driscoll provides short leadership advice videos at They’re free. You do have to sign up for them (name and email) and sign in each time you view a video. But they are well worth the effort.

The last installment is about how a leader senses a call to action. He explains it in 4 steps: go, see, feel, do.

A lot of leaders in the Bible will go somewhere, see something, feel something, and then do something. As a leader, you have get up, getaway from your computer or desk, and go out to see what’s going on in your organization, church, and city. In this segment, Pastor Mark explores this process with real life examples including an interesting one about RPG gamers and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Where do you need to go? Where are some places you haven’t been?

What do you see? Who is there and what kind of culture is it?

What do you feel? What is God burdening you for?

What do you need to do? How can the needs of that place interact with the gospel?

Most of your information and vision is not found just in your office; you’ve got to get up and go out. #e412