The Chief End of Missional Communities

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Question: What is the chief and highest end of man?

Answer: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy Him forever.

This is how the Westminster Catechism begins. It is one of the most famous documents to come out of the English Reformation, developed in the 1600s and used to educate people on doctrine and belief.

It is a series of questions and answers about the Christian faith. It references so many scriptures that speak to this reality and I’m a big advocate for enjoying God as the aim of the life in general and especially for the Christian.

As I thought through this idea and continue to listen to the missional community conversation, there seem to be mixed messages about the chief end of missional communities. Is it the metrics of mission, the family feel of community, the salvation of others, or something far greater?

If this is the end of man, to glorify God and fully to enjoy Him forever, why would it be any different for a collection of Christians on mission?

Mission is only fueled & sustained by joy

Often the missional community conversation is characterized by describing the lack of mission or ranting against the over-focus on the community as the motivator for change towards extending the gospel.

These things are true; the church has lacked being on God’s mission to extend love, grace, compassion and lacking in joining God to fix the brokenness of the world. A lot of this is due to an inward focus on caring for the community at the detriment of mission.

Tweet this: “Mission is only fueled and sustained by joy.” @logangentry

But all of these flawed realities point to a deeper issue regarding motivation. We can move people to action by pointing to the lack of it or open their eyes to see beyond their own community, but these ideas alone won’t sustain or increase mission.

Mission is the result of joy. If mission is lacking, it’s because joy and delight in God are lacking.

What we enjoy, we will discuss. What we enjoy, we will do. What we enjoy, we will give our time, resources, and lives to. This is true of every idea and cause that exists and it is true for the Christian in joining God’s mission.

When we grasp the acceptance, love, forgiveness, mercy, justice that is the character of God revealed most gloriously in the life, death and resurrection of Christ, we can’t help but be in awe. The love, which God has given you in Christ, moves you to want others to know it and experience it.

This is the motivation, the fuel, for mission and it’s the only thing I’ve seen sustain mission. Duty can get people started, but extending the love of God through selfless sacrifice can exhaust us and we tap out on duty-based living.

Returning to the gospel repeatedly to be reminded and refreshed by the love of God reminds us that our selfless sacrifice is minimal compared to Jesus.

There is also a peace that comes from remembering and hoping in the good news of Jesus Christ. It propels the Christian to embody Jesus to the world through action and relationships no matter the cost or circumstance.

Tweet this: “Mission is the result of joy. If mission is lacking it’s because joy and delight in God are lacking.” @logangentry

Joy Comes From Glorifying God on Mission

Joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ is not only a motivator of mission, but also a major end of being on mission. It requires that you give of yourself for someone else’s benefits, often not out of calculated thought, but reaction to caring for others as Jesus has cared for you.

Isaiah 58:10-11 says “if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

It seems counterintuitive. Giving of yourself can be one of the greatest gifts to yourself. Light shall rise in the darkness and gloom will be like midday. Self-sacrificing is life-giving. Joy comes from being on the mission of God caring for others more than yourself.

In doing this, we join God’s mission to display His glory – the sum of His perfections – everywhere we go. The end defines the means and the end is God reigning in His perfect Kingdom, so the means for mission is enjoying God and bringing more of His kingdom about on earth as it is in heaven.

Tweet this: “Giving of yourself can be one of the greatest gifts to yourself.” @logangentry 

Lead People to the Chief End

Forming missional communities that sustain their love for others on the mission of God requires that we lead people back to the chief and highest end first. We can get people to start doing something by pointing to their lack of missional activity, but that does not change their motivation, only their actions. We can also pound the drum against community, but we’ll only hurt the community in our efforts to move it beyond itself.

Leading people to the chief end of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever will accomplish the types of missional communities we long for our churches to be. Places where the love of God flows freely from those experiencing the love of God given to them freely.

This is a longer road than many of us want to take, but we are not looking for a splash of mission, we are looking for long-term renewal and restoration of broken relationships with God, people, and the world.

We must make enjoying God fully our chief end and in doing so, we’ll find ourselves fully on mission to display God’s glory.

Tweet this: “Joy comes from glorifying God on mission.” @logangentry