Appreciate this post. Thanks to Kevin DeYoung for sharing this:
Tim Dearborn’s Confession of a Recovering Mission Fanatic:
Mission is not to be the focus of our life and faith…God calls us to a growing commitment to a Person, our Lord Jesus Christ, not a growing commitment to a task, even one as admirable as mission…
Although I still agree mission is primary and peripheral, central and not optional if a congregation wishes to walk in the center of God’s will, I can’t endorse this phrase anymore [“The church exists for mission like fire exists for burning.”].
The church does not exist for mission. It exists for the Lord Jesus Christ. To set mission before the church as its essential reason for existence is to risk focusing devotion on an idol. In our age of human-centered pragmatism, where our focus is easily fixed on the fruitfulness of our own labor and where our worth is measured by our successes and failures, we dare not make something we do the justification of our existence.
Lack of interest in mission is not fundamentally caused by an absence of compassion or commitment, nor by lack of information or exhortation. And lack of interest is not remedied by more shocking statistics, more gruesome stories or more emotionally manipulative commands to obedience. It is best remedied by intensifying people’s passion for Christ, so that the passions of his heart become the passions that propel our hearts.
I and countless others like me have erred whenever we’ve taught people that mission is the purpose for the church’s existence. There is only one foundation for a church’s existence, and for mission involvement: Jesus Christ. The goal of pastors and mission “fanatics” alike is singular: helping people to grow in their love for Jesus Christ (vi, 3-4).