In the past month I took two Sundays to address the mission of the church, both the universal and local church. I focused on the general mission and then on the global implications of that general mission. My main point was, while the church is called to be many things and to do many things, that the main mission of the church is to make disciples, as we find in places like the conclusion to the Gospel of Matthew.This disciple-making mission involves making new disciples and also deepening disciples.
There is considerable debate right now over this issue within evangelicalism. Some contend that the mission of the church is mercy and cultural restoration, or some variant – material and temporal welfare and not just spiritual salvation. I am glad many are wrestling with this issue. A book that has been helpful in my thinking is the recently published, What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. It is clearly written and, most importantly, points the reader to the Biblical text over and over. I would commend it to you if you would love to sharpen your sense of the mission of the church.
For another angle, check out James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World.