Mission Briefing: Ideas shaping world missions today


About twenty years ago, "to make Christlike disciples in the nations"1 became the officially-stated mission of the Church of the Nazarene. Of course, while that exact wording may be somewhat recent, what it says is not. Global outreach has been in Nazarene DNA from the very beginning.

Our mission statement announces that we are going beyond counting "decisions." Our stated core value of being a "holiness people" evokes the Christlikeness theme of the mission statement. In addition, we Nazarenes have never been isolationists. From the start, we have been involved in disciple-making around the world as well as in our own neighborhoods.

That mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations is not something just for global missionaries sent out by the World Mission office. Money, manpower, and plan making at every level of the denomination must "fit" with both phrases of that mission statement. Indeed, every Nazarene should be involved in some way with both phrases:

On the local, district, regional and global levels, we must allow the mission statement to shape what we do, when we do it and how we do it. We must be prayerfully asking: Does this activity or emphasis or decision fit who we are? Is what we are doing and how we are doing it consistent with the objective of making Christlike disciples in the nations? We don't just do things because we can or simply because an opportunity presented itself. We do things because they have meaning for us in terms of our stated mission.

Organizations, businesses and institutions used to say there was "good chemistry" when people, programs, and resources came together to accomplish group goals. In recent years, organizational leaders have moved past the touchy-feely chemistry reference to using "mission- fit" to express alignment with a group's ultimate goal.

If we are to carry out our denomination's mission, the following items need to be "mission- fit" for us:

If some of these things fail "mission-fit" inspection, we may have settled for things that are inconsistent and perhaps even incompatible with our denomination's stated mission. We need to ask:

  1. Is our vision-casting, strategizing and planning shaped by our stated mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations?
  2. Do we openly encourage new believers to "buy in" to the mission statement?
  3. Do we ask "mission-fit" questions of the men and women moving toward ordination as Nazarene ministers?

There are lots of words which ought to characterize what we do to carry out our mission. God-centered, transformative, sustainable, culturally appropriate, transparent, reproducible, and empowering all come to mind. Wouldn't the "icing on the cake," though, be having "mission-fit" describe a coherency of everything from our administration of financial resources to the things we say we are most zealous about.

1Note: In the Bible, the word "nations" does not mean the political entities like China, India and the USA. Rather, it means people groups or societies in which people speak the same language, have the same culture and live in or have originated the same area. "Natioins" is synonymous with the plural word "peoples." In other words, nations in the Bible means all of the people groups of the world other than the people of Israel.

    -- Howard Culbertson

This 500-word mini-essay on a key issue in world missions outreach is one of 12 articles in the "Mission briefing" series published in Engage magazine.

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