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Which is important for the church: edification or mission?

Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 in blog links, edification, missional | 10 comments

Which is important for the church: edification or mission?

There is a bit of a feud (and that is a huge overstatement) going on between two of my friends – real friends – on their blogs.

It started when Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” wrote the post “No Guarantee.” In the post, Eric exhorts the church to seek to edify one another. He concludes, “I simply want to encourage us all to be intentional in our efforts at mutual edification as the body gathers. Otherwise we miss the point of the meeting altogether.”

In response Dave Black (Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.) says, without disagreeing with Eric, that the church’s purpose is mission. He writes, “As I understand Scripture, the church is to carry out the Missio Dei of the Triune God at both the micro (individual salvation) and macro (societal) levels, with a view to redemption, reconciliation, and social transformation.”

So, is edification important for the church or is mission important for the church? The answer is, obviously, YES! Both edification and mission are important – and vital and necessary – for the church.

As Eric pointed out, when the church gathers together – that is, whenever we are together with other brothers or sisters in Christ – our goal should be to build up one another – to help one another grow in maturity in Jesus Christ.

Edification is the responsibility of every believer – yes, every believer, not just leaders – whenever the church gather together. And, edification includes anything that allows us to help one another walk in the Spirit (put on Christ, mature in Christ, honor God – however you want to say it). We are all ministers (servants) given to the church by God to help the church grow in his grace.

For further explanation, see my recent post “Whenever you come together.”

But, as Dave pointed out, we are also to carry out the mission of God. This mission takes on both an individual aspect and a societal aspect. While proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to people we meet (with both our words AND our actions), we are also to be serving those around us (our neighbors, our co-workers, other students, others in our communities) in order to demonstrate the kingdom of God to the world.

Again, this is the responsibility of ALL believers – not just leaders or those who are “specially called.” We are God’s witnesses testifying of the good work that God is doing in our lives. We are all missionaries sent into the world by God to carry out his mission.

In fact, we may choose carry out this mission together – with other believers. In that case, our missional lives become a further opportunity to edify the church, thus carrying out both aspects of church life listed above: edification and mission.

(For further explanation, see my recent post “Our shared mission.”)

So, yes, when the church comes together, we are to build up one another in maturity in Jesus Christ. And, we are to carry out God’s mission as those sent into the world by God.

Both are important for the church.


10 Comments

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  1. 6-30-2011

    I’m not sure it is possible to do a biblical job of either if we aren’t seeing both as inter-related.

    Much of our mission is dependent on lives that bespeak of the glory and grace of God. In a sense, we ARE the message, and that message is muddie when we are living in the flesh and for selfish purposes. When we are yielding ourselves more and more to serve God as living sacrifices and withdraw from the course of this world with its self-centered values and goals, His light is shed forth (see I Thess 1).

    Our mutual edification prepares us to BE the evident work of God in our neighborhoods and workplaces and in the everydayness of living. And, as Alan aluded, harnessed together in serving one another and in serving those outside the faith is one of the key ways we continue to edify one another in ways that meetings alone cannot.

    It is the inworking and outworking of our faith in action, together. I love the phrase, faith which worketh by love -Gal 5:6

  2. 6-30-2011

    Art,

    Great comment. Thanks!

    Yes, we must ensure that we are doing both: edifying one another and taking God to the nations (and neighbors).

    -Alan

  3. 6-30-2011

    I do not see a difference between the two.

    If you are being missional, are you not edifying as you go?

    If you are edifying, are you not acting out as a missionary?

    Swanny

  4. 6-30-2011

    Swanny,

    Your questions assume the truth.

    They are the same. Being missional means teaching others to do everything Jesus commanded us to do. (Mt 28:16-20) This cannot be done without edification, because people who believe (and people who do not) need to be individually built up.

  5. 6-30-2011

    Alan,

    your post encouraged me to post

    http://blaargracer.blogspot.com/2011/06/meeting-physical-needs-or-sharing.html

    Thank you for your thoughts

  6. 6-30-2011

    Alan,

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been thinking a lot about this very issue lately. This gave me some food for thought.

  7. 6-30-2011

    Thanks, all, for the comments. I’ve been driving today, and don’t have time now to respond to all the commenters individually.

    -Alan

  8. 8-23-2011

    Agreed. Check out my post on this topic. Just wrote it and was looking to see what others were saying on the topic.

    http://www.becomforted.com/2011/08/we-eat-our-own-we-would-be-more.html

  9. 2-20-2013

    Where does worship fit into “edification” and “mission”?

  10. 2-20-2013

    Justin,

    Worship is submission/obedience to God, so both edification and mission are worship.

    -Alan