There are three missions the Church is enjoined to engage in: the mission towards God by worshipping Him (Col. 3:16; Eph. 1:12; 5:16-19), the mission towards the believers by nourishing them in the Word (Col. 1:28; Eph. 4:12-13) and the mission towards the world by evangelising the lost (Matt. 28:19). All three missions are important as the Bible commands them all. Some churches overemphasize one or two missions at the expense of the others. For example, some churches focus more on singing worship songs, but neglect feeding the flock with the pure milk of God’s Word. While others feed the flock well, but evangelize less. Biblical churches should emphasize all three missions.
In my opinion, the most neglected or poorly accomplished mission of the church is evangelism. The Bible commands the body of believers to evangelize, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ ” (Matt. 28:18-20). Therefore, it is a sin of omission not to engage in the task of making disciples by evangelism.
Jesus taught his disciples the need to evangelize the lost. In John 4, Jesus personally evangelizes the Samaritan woman who in turn brings the whole neighbourhood to Him. When the disciples bring food, Jesus says, “I have food to eat that you do not know about” (v. 32). The disciples presume that someone might have given Him something to eat. But Jesus tells them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (v 34). The will of the Father in sending His Son Jesus was to save sinners by dying on the cross for their sake and thus absorbing His just wrath due on them. Saving sinners was the will of the Father that Jesus so passionately fulfilled; for Him it was like food that fully satiates. We need this mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5)!
Now Jesus gives His disciples the divine perspective that we all need to have in preaching the gospel, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (v 35). The Samaritans used to wear white robes. Imagine the scene: the Samaritans were rushing towards Jesus the Messiah across the fields in broad daylight, making the green fields look white – ripe for harvest! There are three things we can notice here: First, reaping the harvest is important because God is the one who has prepared the harvest. Second, reaping the harvest is rewarding because there will be joy over repentant sinners both in heaven and among believers and the Lord of the harvest rewards the reapers. Third, reaping the harvest is easy because others have laboured and we enter into their labour. May we lift up our eyes to see that our mission fields are ripe for harvest!
Whatever else our churches may do, we are to stay committed to this work of making disciples by preaching the gospel. Only the church is tasked with the responsibility and equipped with the tools needed to accomplish the mission of spreading the gospel to the world around us. The gospel is the good news of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! This gospel is the only hope for the dying world. There’s no Saviour apart from Jesus. This is because Jesus, the one who commissioned the church to proclaim the gospel, gave his life for sinners. The world may reject this truth, but the church needs to gently, yet firmly emphasize it. We need to help people understand that the claims of the gospel proclaimed by the church are universal, unchanging, and exclusive. We preach the gospel of the one who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). As we proclaim the gospel, we can be sure that Christ will build his church. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of salvation for all who believe.
This is the gospel that the world desperately needs. And the church everywhere needs to proclaim it. That is central to the mission of the church!
Joshua Jude serves as a pastor of Bethel Reformed Church, Tanuku, Andhra Pradesh. He is married to Vijaya Madhavi and they have two grown-up children.