What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission is written by Pastors Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. This book has three parts; part one discusses understanding our mission, part two, understanding our categories, and part three understanding what we do, and why we do it. The book concludes with advice for the young, motivated, and missional.
What is the Mission of the Church was written out of the author’s concern that many Christians are defining the mission of the church more broadly than ever before. As many Christians do this they are defining the mission of the church in terms of social justice or other such activities that are good, but not ultimate. What is the mission of the Church? In order to get to that answer the authors in part one spend considerable space in part one clearing away misconceptions about what people think by grounding the reader in the Word of God. The authors note on page 29 that, “Mission is the task we are given to fulfill. It’s what Jesus sends us into the world to do. And if we want to figure out what Jesus sends disciples into the world to do, the best place to look is the Great Commission.”
In part two the authors set the foundation by explaining what they mean by the mission of the Church. In doing this they helpfully walk the reader through understanding the Gospel and the kingdom of God. After they do this, the authors spend time examining a number of biblical texts on social justice in order to ground the discussion on social justice not in political theory but in the Word of God. Thankfully the authors do not stop at just explaining the biblical text, but apply the biblical text to the life of believers, and the Church. Part two is a very important part of the book that seeks to ground evangelicals in the Word of God and the Gospel of God uniting them by a common cause in order to launch us forward into the true mission of the Church.
The final part of the book examines the importance of gospel-centered good works and the great commission mission. In chapter nine the authors reorient the discussion on the mission of the Church by focusing on making disciples of all the nations. In chapter ten the authors give their definition of the mission of the Church, which is: The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship and obey Jesus Chris now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father (DeYoung & Gilbert, 241).
Many people today believe it is the church’s responsibility to engage in cultural transformation, or other such activities, and while these ministries can be helpful towards the community; our ultimate mission is to declare the Gospel to our neighbors, and to the nations that they may be taken from spiritual darkness to new life in His name.
The last chapter of this book is one of the most interesting chapters I’ve read in a book in a long time. In epilogue Chris and Tim have a conversation about the mission of the Church. Chris is a young church planter fresh out of seminary while Tim is a seasoned Pastor. This conversation reinforces the point the authors are making that the mission of the Church isn’t doing good things towards others or building programs, but rather to make disciples of Jesus Christ in the power of the spirit to the glory of God the Father.
What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission by Pastors Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert is a well-written, biblical, Christ-centered exploration of the mission of the Church. The authors take on a topic that is often misunderstood, and set the conversation on the mission of the church within a biblical-theological framework which helps them to correct misconceptions, restore understanding from the Word of God, and help those on whatever side of the issue of the mission of the Church.
Reading this book will be challenging for some, and convicting for others. Understanding the mission of the Church is vital, so thinking through these things is extremely important. Thankfully Pastors DeYoung and Gilbert in writing this book have provides us (the reader) with a helpful treatment on issues related not only related to the mission of the Church, but also on topics that are very controversial to a lot of people such as social justice. The enduring legacy of this book, I believe will be in the fact that it by the grace of God will push forward the conversation on the mission of the Church by reorienting the discussion not around programs or activities, but around the Word of God, the Gospel of God, for the sake of making disciples of Jesus.
I recommend you pick up a copy of What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission is written by Pastors Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert in order to be challenged, convicted, corrected, and edified as you join them in thinking through the ultimate mission of the Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ in the power of the spirit to the glory of God the Father.
Authors: Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert
Publisher: Crossway (2011)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Dave Jenkins is happily married to his wife, Sarah. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021), The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022), and Contentment: The Journey of a Lifetime (Theology for Life, 2024). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.