Ecumenical Affirmation: Mission and Evangelism (1982)
The document points out that each living individual on this planet “is entitled to hear the Good News.” Gospel proclamation involves acknowledging and receiving Christ as Lord and Savior “in a personal decision”. It is an intimate “encounter” with Christ, through the mediation of the Holy Spirit, receiving Christ’s forgiveness, and the commitment to follow Christ in all areas of life, including a lifetime service in his kingdom.
Christ’s call is for all to turn away from sin and its rule in one’s life, full transformation through the work of the Holy Spirit, and participation in Christ’s work here on earth such as social responsibilities that promotes reconciliation towards God and thy neighbor. Conversion only takes place when all areas of one’s life is being transformed. This is only possible through the powerful work and intervention of the Holy Spirit. Conversion also includes one’s personal experience of transformation of perspective, character, and habits. Conversion is “a call to repentance and obedience addressed to the nations, groups, and families.” Since conversion is an “ongoing process that involves a turning from and a turning to,” it depicts a life of forgiveness of sins, redemption, restored fellowship with the Triune God, restored image bearers of God, continuous work of the Holy Spirit, endurance and perseverance until Christ comes back again.
On Christ’s Lordship
“The lordship of Christ is to be proclaimed to all realms of life.”
All realms of life includes that which covers not only the individual believer’s experience with Christ, but how each believer embodies the call of the gospel to “structures of society” where he/she is in. Full submission to the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20), specifically this part of the passage, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Christian education)”, covers a holistic and integrative approach to the proclamation of the gospel. The members of the Committee emphasizes that as the “Gospel” continuously pose a “challenge” to “structures of society”, people will not just be ushered to salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation, but be “renewed” in terms of relating to these “structures”. The “Church” as it is commissioned to share the “good news of the kingdom”, and as it fulfills its call and tasks in gospel proclamation and propagation should also address and respond to issues concerning human life. As faithful stewardship grows, it will be a powerful “Christian witness” that points to the glory of the head of the church, JESUS CHRIST.
On Christian Mission
“Thus Christian mission is the action of the body of Christ in the history of humankind—a continuation of Pentecost. Those who through conversion and baptism accept the Gospel of Jesus partake in the life of the body of Christ and participate in an historical tradition.”
The Church, as the recipient of the transformative power of the gospel operates solely as commissioned by Jesus, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Together, the church as it fulfills its tasks/mission, embodies Christ’s example, words and work. However, in church history, the church always fails to embody “unity in God’s mission”. I find this very challenging. Growing up, I’ve seen how “dogmas and creeds” at certain seasons get politicized. Many churches were divided not just because of the diversity in terms of doctrine and practice, but on power play, failure to embody Christ’s love, and failure to keep the unity in the bond of peace. Church history has learned painful lessons on Christian witness/missions to the unreached people groups. Christian witness got compromised and worst, lost it’s integrity and credibility. Most of the time in church history, planting churches means replicating a certain groups “church’s model”. Upholding authenticity, culture preservation, and many other things are out of the process. Incarnation is merely present. Following Christ’s way of doing mission is the most challenging for me. Sometimes, it may appear that churches or missions organizations follow Christ’s example but in actual scenarios, it’s the other way around. So, it’s always a challenge to pursue Christ-like methods and strategies whenever certain “doctrinal beliefs”, dogmas/creeds get in the way.
On Obedience in Mission
“Our obedience in mission should be patterned on the ministry and teaching of Jesus. He gave his love and his time to all people…”
I would like to implement this conviction in our church context. As we pursue obedience to God’s leading as a church, it is my prayer that we will be able to give that authentic love to the “least of these” as commanded by Jesus. Jesus heart is for the poor, the marginalized, the downcast, the oppressed. But who are they in this generation? How can we reach them out and share the love of Jesus?
“A growing consensus among Christians today speaks of God’s preferential option for the poor.”
God’s compassion towards the poor has always been present. There are certain laws in the Old Testament that really caters to the needs of the poor. There’s a specific law in the book of Deuteronomy where God commands Israel to take care of the poor as he has been generous to them. It is true that the ministry to the poor has long been exploited among churches. The Lord has been purging and renewing the churches with regard to exploitation of the poor. Christians’ since then are beginning to open their perspectives on God’s heart for the poor.
In our church context where poor communities are within reach, it has been a constant challenge to cater both the faithful proclamation of the gospel and the challenges entailed to efforts on social responsibility. Our church has been a work in progress but we know we can still improve and do better in terms of ministering to our poor brethren.
“The Christian affirmations on the worldwide missionary responsibility of the Church will be credible if they are authenticated by a serious missionary engagement at home.”
This is very true. I remember our Senior Pastor’s lecture at Church Camp last October 2016. He said, we can only be an effective M3 (cross-cultural worker/missionary) if we are faithful M1’s (church member who’s involved in missionary efforts). Our church has been a strong “sender” ever since it started. But sending missionaries doesn’t just end in providing monetary support. I’m glad that our church is learning to do better when it comes to missionary engagement. Little by little, the church provides more learning, equipping and training venues for the church members, leaders, pastors and workers in doing God’s mission.
“Christians owe the message of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ to every person and to every people.”
If this conviction has been the conviction of every believer there is, how many people could’ve truly heard and accepted the Good News? While it is true that some people from other religious faiths are won or drawn to the gospel through “ideological persuasions”, others don’t. It doesn’t always work for all. Proclamation of the Gospel to people from other religious faith is truly a long journey and effort done together in “communities of freedom, peace and mutual respect.” One example is a locally established Faith group. It has been our church’s long-time neighbor near UP Campus. I remember our former Senior Pastor writing an “Open letter” to this “Faith group”. Our Senior Pastor’s purpose of writing is not just about “ideological persuasions” but the practice of “mutual respect”, extending peace, and the faithful proclamation of the gospel. His example has been imitated by members of our church and we’ve been striving our best in keeping a peaceful relationship with the said “faith group”.