Do you ever struggle in motivation for mission? Do you ever see your people lacking in motivation for mission? After all the shifts in ecclesiology, the planting of many churches, and the landslide of missional literature, why aren’t people more missional? Perhaps it is because we are motivating them with the wrong things.

What should motivate us for mission? There are numerous motivations for mission in the Bible. Many of them can be grouped under three headings that point us to the goal of the gospel, the demands of the gospel, the graces of the gospel. In this first post, I’ll address our missional identity.

Missional Identity

The missio Dei, a Latin phrase meaning, “the sending of God”, reminds us that mission is not merely something we do, an action; it is something God is. Mission is an attribute of God. He’s a sending God. He sends his Son (Easter) and sends his Spirit (Pentecost) to renew the world. So, mission doesn’t start and end with us. It starts and ends with God. His mission is nothing short of the redemption of peoples and cultures, the renewal of all creation for his own glory. It’s God’s great, burdensome, and glorious mission—the renewal of all creation! My goodness, we can’t manage that, but God, in his mercy has invited us to participate in his mission. Through the gospel, He rescues us from a life of self-serving mission to participate in a life of God-serving, Christ-glorifying mission. We are remade into missional people by the redeeming work of the Spirit and the Son.

Therefore, if we are in Christ, we have a missionary identity. We are adopted into a missionary family. We serve a missionary God. Mission becomes part of our identity, because we cut from the cloth of a missionary God. So, the church is a missionary church, with missionary people, that do missionary things. It is who we are and it is also what we do. Mission is not merely for the superspiritual, an option, an appendix to Christian faith. To be Christian is to be on mission.  It’s who we are and it is what we do. We redemptively engage peoples and cultures, by sharing, showing, and embodying Christ in our context. This includes evangelism, social action, and cultural engagement, counseling, empathy, celebration. It’s bringing the renewing power of the whole gospel into the whole city.

Now, the good news of the gospel is that we get to be the blessing of mission, while God carries the burden of mission. Ultimately, it is God’s mission. The Spirit does all the changing; we simply share, show, and embody the wonderfully renewing power of gospel. However, if we aren’t walking with God, keeping in step with the Spirit, and following Christ, out life will hardly be missional. In fact, it will be rife with dangerous disobedience. If you are in Christ, you have a missional identity. To disregard your missionary identity is to reject your identity in Christ. The first motivation is the missio Dei, that mission is in our DNA, our identity. It is who we are in God, through Christ, by the Spirit.