Missionary Theology: the Sentness of God and His people
The missionary nature of God and His Church--
the "Sentness" of God and His People
Both God and the church are intrinsically and principally “missionary” in nature. God is a missionary God who sends a missionary church. In fact, a survey of the term “sending” in its various forms in Scripture reveals the missionary nature of the Triune God, as well as the very essence of the church. The redemptive activity of God, his relationship to the world, and his dealing with mankind is described in Scripture by the word “sending.” The word “sending” is the “sum and substance of God’s creativity and activity” (Georg F. Vicedom, The Mission of God, 9).
Scripture is replete with sending language that speaks to the missionary nature of a Triune God. God the Father sends the Son, and God the Father and the Son sends the Spirit, and God the Father and the Son and the Spirit sends the church. In the Gospel of John alone, nearly forty times we read about Jesus being sent – either from the evangelist or from Jesus’ own lips. In the final climatic sending passage in John’s Gospel, Jesus sees himself not only as one sent but also as one who is sending:
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
It is important to make clear that the church is a vital part of the missional conversation. However, the church must not be seen simply as an entity that sends missionaries; as admirable as sending and supporting missionary activity might be. Instead, we must recognize that the purpose of the church is derived from the very nature of a sending, missionary God, which in turn compels it to be sent as a missionary people, both individually and collectively.