The English term “mission” comes from the Latin missio meaning “act of sending” (noun form) or “to send” (verb form). The related Greek terms are the verb/noun combination from which we get the noun “apostle” (which means “one who is sent” or “ambassador” or “messenger”).
As God’s children, we are all sent by God into the world. We share this mission (“sending”) as the church of God.
It’s often difficult to talk about this shared (or common) mission because people tend to focus on their part of the mission. Those who are gifted or talented at proclaiming the gospel tend to focus on evangelism. Those who are gifted and able to travel from place to place tend to focus on itinerant or apostolic service. Those who are gifted or talented teacher tend to focus on that part of the mission.
However, in reality, every one of God’s children (every person indwelled by the Spirit – every person who has been saved by Jesus Christ) is important in God’s mission. When we focus on one part of that mission (evangelism, apostleship, teaching, etc.), we also end up excluding others or diminishing their importance in God’s mission.
In the same way, God’s children are sent everywhere. Some are sent across the world, and some are sent across the street. The destination does not change the mission. However, when we focus on the mission as belonging only to those who are sent around the world, we end up excluding others or diminishing their importance in God’s mission.
Similarly, God sends some of his children primarily to those who are not (yet) his children. These servants focus on introducing people to the gospel of Jesus Christ. God sends others primarily to those who are (already) his children. These servants focus on strengthening the church and helping one another walk in maturity in Jesus Christ. When we focus on the mission as being only to unbelievers or only to believers, we end up excluding others or diminishing their importance in God’s mission.
Finally, if we are called to serve in a certain way, we must not limit ourselves to that single way of serving. Evangelists should also give. Teacher should also serve. Apostles should also exhort. If God sends us to a particular area, we must recognize that we are “sent” even when we are not in that area. If God primarily uses us among a certain type of people (nonbelievers or believers, for example), we must recognize that we are sent to the other “type” of people as well.
Yes, we have a shared (common) mission. We have all been sent by God. We have the same mission, though we have all been sent to work in different manners, in different locations, and among different people. We work best when we work together. We work best when we exalt in the different ways that God sends us.
I would love to hear how God has sent you on his mission.