Mission Is a Partnership
Posted on May 22, 2023 by VMMissions Staff
To truly live God’s mission, the global church must work together in partnership to demonstrate the beauty of new life in Jesus, to live here and now as a new creation.
By Shawn Green
From the beginning of creation, we see a relational God who interacts with his creation. Any whole relationship involves an element of growing or imparting one’s knowledge. Parents impart their values to their children. Teachers convey their knowledge and expertise. Friends find joy in each other’s life experiences and stories.
In the case of Adam and Eve in the garden, receiving God’s perfect knowledge was a blessing. I can imagine Adam and Eve soaking it up like sponges during those walks in the garden. As they were learning all about this new world, who better to impart that knowledge than the author of all creation?
Let’s go back to that word blessing. Time and again, we see throughout scripture this concept of blessing. God blessed Abraham and his descendants, so that they would be a blessing to all people. The imagery and insistence for the people of God to be a blessing is found throughout the law and the prophets. Jews and Gentiles alike received the blessing of Christ, who revealed the heart of God, established his kingdom, and restored sinful humanity through his selfless act of sacrifice. Along with making his glory known, God’s pouring out blessings on all nations like living water is at the heart of God’s desire.
The message of salvation is merely the beginning of what God’s mission truly encompasses. Salvation should not be the end but the beginning, not the destination but the departure point.
We may not have the ability to walk physically in the garden with God as Adam and Eve did, but we do have God’s word to walk in daily. There we see another strong example of God’s relational aspect—the last time that God physically walked among us and imparted his perfect knowledge to us. What a blessing! Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection is often the focal point of his purpose on earth, and for good reason. But we shouldn’t overlook or miss the countless bits of perfect knowledge that Jesus taught and shared as he walked among his followers, and with which we are invited to align our hearts and immerse our souls in God’s goodness and mercy.
At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus gathered a group to take his message into the world. This method founded a movement like many others in history, but with one very important difference: the group Jesus gathered would never, in earthly terms, have been able to collaborate and work together. They had opposing viewpoints, social status differences, and a range of moral standards, to name a few. This aspect of their reality is often lost on us today, in our distance from that time and local culture. That this group was able to collaborate is one of the fundamental evidences of the transformative power of Jesus and, ultimately, the Holy Spirit on their lives.
Jesus told them, “They will know you are my disciples if you love one another” in one of his last statements before his arrest. Anyone who knew the disciples and their backgrounds would have been aware that the group of people in front of them should not have been lovingly working together with one heart, one spirit, and one purpose. It was only because of God’s supernatural power bringing them together as one body.
The church in Termoli, Italy that Shawn and Laura Green and their children serve with have held various outreach events as the church family worked together on mission. Above: An Easter Monday meal included an Afghan family to whom the Greens have been ministering. Courtesy of Shawn Green
Church members in Termoli work together to host a New Year’s event to invite their neighbors into a relationship with Jesus. Courtesy of Shawn Green
This is still a reality for us today. While it is true that the body is made up of different gifts and abilities, unity must be at the heart of everything the church body does. I think this is especially important for missions. There is no separating the hand from the arm, there is no head that operates without or apart from the feet. It is imperative that unity and walking, working, living together be a part of the church. That is the way that God’s kingdom operates, and as citizens of that kingdom, we are called to be representatives of it to those who are not yet part of it. Our collaborative spirit and work together is both an example of the fullness of life and the evidence of Christ in us.
This is easier said than done. One only needs to look at the landscape of the church body to see how we are failing in being a loving, unified body of one heart, spirit, and purpose. Unity and purpose get lost in competing agendas over doctrinal differences. We debate how this should be done or how that should take place. Who is right or wrong? Who is in or out?
This disunity loses sight of what God’s mission truly is: to pour out his blessings on all who believe. We have the ability to walk daily with our God who holds the answers to our problems. As the church collaborates and serves together in love, purpose, and unity, God reveals himself and his perfect solution for humanity’s deepest needs to the world. The church is God’s instrument and vessel, his body on earth. All the body parts working together in harmony for God’s purpose is a beautiful, compelling, and necessary partnership for the kingdom to thrive and grow.
Why must we collaborate in God’s mission? What does that look like from a kingdom perspective? First, we need to be on the same page as to what God’s mission truly is. As I have served as a mission worker in southern Italy, and as I have studied the Bible and grown in my knowledge of Christ, I have become more and more convinced that the message of salvation is merely the beginning of what God’s mission truly encompasses. To stop at a personal redemption and reconciliation with the Father is, in Paul’s words, “spiritual milk.” Salvation should not be the end but the beginning, not the destination but the departure point.
To truly live God’s mission, the church must work together in partnership to demonstrate the beauty of new life in Jesus, to live here and now as a new creation. God has called us to serve him in this way. We are commanded to go forth and make disciples. Because of what he has done for us, we are compelled to share the gospel. And we do this most fully and effectively as a family, a body of the reconciled serving together to invite all people into the blessing.
Shawn Green is a VMMissions worker serving in Termoli, Italy with his wife Laura and children Lucas, Emmanuel, Matteo, and Isabella.
Filed in: All posts, Transforming