So far we’ve seen that God motivates us for mission with our gospel identity (missio Dei) and missional responsibility (mandates). Another way God motivates us to mission is by giving us particular graces. These graces come in the form of spiritual gifts. All of these gifts are intended to advance the mission of Christ. The Holy Spirit empowers us for mission by giving us missional gifts.

Missional Offices

In Ephesians 4, we learn that, not only is mission our identity and responsibility, but it’s also in our gifting. The Spirit gives missional offices to the church—Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher—who exist to equip the saints for the work of ministry. The first three offices are inherently missional, for building out the church, adding to her number, advancing the mission through starting new ministries and churches, leading people to Christ, and proclaiming the gospel. The latter two, pastor and teacher, reinforce the mission by teaching God’s people about the missionary God and the missional church (along with a lot of other things). All five offices exist for the advance of teh gospel. Peter O’Brien comments on these five offices as “ministers of the Word through whom the gospel is revealed, declared, and taught. So, these five gifts to the church are missional gifts for the sake of the gospel.

Missional Gifts

But that’s not all. Ultimately, these five equippers (Woodward) exist to mobilize the church for mission, for ministry. The Spirit has given you, each one of us unique gifts to advance the mission of Christ, to redemptively engage peoples and cultures (1 Cor 12; Rom 12; Eph 4). In Ephesians, we see these gifts operating in the church community, the Body of the Head. Fine enough. But then something interesting happens. The body grows. It grows up and it grows out, into the full stature of Christ. We build the church up with our gifts (community), and we build the church out with our gifts (mission). As it turns out, the gospel converts us to a Missional Church. The Pauline vision of the Church is a growing, diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural new humanity created by the Spirit. How does it grow? It grows through the godly, responsible, and gracious use of these gifts. If we are in Christ, the Spirit has given us missional gifts, to build the body up and out. To not use these gifts for mission is to to squander God’s graces. The Spirit motivates us with these graces. Be yourself in the Spirit, not yourself in the flesh. Walk out your gifts in the Spirit in everyday life.

More on this approach to mission can be found in my LEAD ’09 talks and a recent sermon on Missional Gifts.

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