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of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995
Article 10. The Church in Mission
We believe that the
church is called to proclaim and to be a sign of the kingdom of God.
Christ has commissioned the church to be his witnesses, making
disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe
all things he has commanded. 
In his mission of
preaching, teaching, and healing, Jesus announced, "The kingdom of God
has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."  After his death and resurrection, Jesus
commissioned his disciples, saying, "Peace be with you. As the Father
has sent me, so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit."  Empowered by that Spirit, we continue
Jesus' ministry of gathering the new people of God, who acknowledge
Christ as Lord and Savior.
The church is called to
witness to the reign of Christ by embodying Jesus' way in its own life
and patterning itself after the reign of God. Thus it shows the world a
sample of life under the lordship of Christ. By its life, the church is
to be a city on a hill, a light to the nations, 
testifying to the power of the resurrection by a way of life different
from the societies around it.
The church is also to
give witness by proclaiming the reign of God in word and deed. The
church is to seek the lost, call for repentance, announce salvation
from sin, proclaim the gospel of peace, set free the oppressed, pray
for righteousness and justice, serve as Jesus did, and without coercion
urge all people to become part of the people of God. The church is
called to be a channel of God's healing, which may include anointing
with oil.  Even at the risk of
suffering and death, the love of Christ compels faithful witnesses to
testify for their Savior. 
Such witness is a
response to Jesus' call to make disciples. As they are welcomed and
incorporated into the church, new Christians learn to participate in
the church's worship, in its fellowship, education, mutual aid,
decision making, service, and continuing mission.  New believers also help the church to
learn new dimensions of its mission. 
God calls the church to
direct its mission to people from all nations and ethnic backgrounds.
Jesus commissioned his disciples to be his witnesses in "Jerusalem, in
all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  The apostle Paul preached to the Gentile
nations. The church today is also called to witness to people of every
culture, ethnicity, or nationality. The mission of the church does not
require the protection of any nation or empire. Christians are
strangers and aliens within all cultures. Yet the church itself is
God's nation, encompassing people who have come from every tribe and
nation. Indeed, its mission is to reconcile differing groups, creating
one new humanity  and providing a
preview of that day when all the nations shall stream to the mountain
of the Lord and be at peace. 
(1) Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19-20.
(2) Mark 1:15.
(3) John 20:21-22; Acts 10:36.
(4) Matt. 5:13-16; Isa. 42:6.
(5) Mark 6:13; James 5:14-15.
(6) 2 Cor. 5:14.
(7) Acts 2:41-47.
(8) Acts 10; 15.
(9) Acts 1:8.
(10) Eph. 2:15-16.
(11) Isa. 2:2-4.
1. Christ has commissioned the church to continue his mission.
Missionaries and others with the gift of evangelism do not function
independently, but as representatives of Christ and the church. The
commissions by Jesus to his disciples (recorded in Matt. 28:19-20; Mark
16:15-18; Luke 24:45-49; John 20:21-22; and Acts 1:8) are given through
the apostles to the community as a whole.
2. The mission of the church involves both word and deed, evangelism
and service, proclaiming Christ's message and demonstrating, by the
life of the church, the nature of the new creation in Christ. Neither
word alone nor deed alone is sufficient for mission. Word explains
deed, and deed authenticates word.
3. In the ministry of
Jesus, healing (in body and in spirit) and salvation are closely
related. The same Greek word is used in the New Testament for healing
and salvation. Jesus' words both to those whose sins were forgiven and
to those who were healed were, "Your faith has saved you [made you
well]; go in peace." (Compare Luke 7:50 and 8:48, where the same Greek
words are used, but the NIV and NRSV use different English words.) The
church continues Jesus' ministry of healing. The church may be a
channel for healing through the service of prayer and anointing with
4. Mission includes peace
and evangelism. Peace is an integral part of the content of the
church's message (Acts 10:36; Eph. 2:17; 6:15). Peace also describes
the context of evangelism (John 20:21-22). The power of gospel is so
strong and God's mercy is so wide that it is possible for any person to
repent and be saved. No enemy is so evil as to be beyond God's love.
The church lives and preaches reconciliation boldly, yet without
coercion. The missionary church chooses to suffer rather than to force
its way. In the language of the New Testament, the word for witness is
the same as the word for martyr.
5. The church is called
to live as an alternative culture within the surrounding society. Thus,
the church is involved in cross-cultural mission whether it reaches out
to people of the majority culture, to people of minority cultures
within the society, or to various cultural groups in other countries.
The church lives within the dominant culture, yet is called to
challenge that culture's myths and assumptions when they conflict with
Christian faith. Those cultural myths include individualism,
materialism, militarism, nationalism, racism, sexism, and a worldview
which denies the reality of anything beyond the grasp of the five
senses and reason.
6. In its mission, the
church claims Jesus Christ as the only Savior of the world (Acts 4:12).
Some people feel that all ways to God are equally valid and that
mission work by its very nature is intolerant and coercive. However,
faithful witness to Christ is noncoercive; it does not force our point
of view on anyone. It recognizes that God is not left without a witness
anywhere (Acts 10:35; 14:17; 17:22-31; Rom. 1:19-20; 2:14-16). It
testifies to Christ's work in our lives and invites others to know him,
follow him, and become part of his body. We engage in mission because
of our love and concern for people and because the love of Christ urges
us on. We understand also that mission helps us grow in our
understanding of the gospel, just as the early church's mission to the
Gentiles helped it understand the gospel in new ways.
the delegates of Mennonite Church General Assembly, and of the General
Conference Mennonite Church Tricentennial Session, July 28, 1995,
Wichita, Kansas. Copyright © 1995 by Herald Press Scottdale PA
15683. Used by permission. Order print copies of Confession of
Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, and Summary Statement,
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, From Herald Press, Scottdale,
Pa. Worship resources
based on this confession, and translations
are also available.
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