Why we exist and what we exist to do
Therefore, compelled by God’s great love and empowered by the Holy Spirit…
- we cross barriers to proclaim the crucified and risen Christ, expressing his love and compassion among those who live and die without him.
- we make disciples who will trust and obey Jesus, and will become part of Christ-centred churches.
- we work together with churches to fulfil God’s mission across cultures, locally and globally.
- we facilitate participation in cross-cultural ministry by those whom God is calling.
“Convinced that no one should live and die without hearing God’s good news”
Scripture indicates that without hearing and believing in Jesus Christ, people are lost and eternally separated from God.
To affirm the SIM Purpose is to be convinced of two things:
- the uniqueness of salvation only through Jesus Christ, and
- that human sin eternally separates humanity from God and each other.
God’s good news proclaims that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, fulfilled God’s promise with his people to bring blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:1-3). Through his death for our sins, and through his resurrection from death, Jesus Christ establishes new life and his reign as Lord and King over all creation, which is groaning under the curse of death due to human sin (1 Corinthians 15:1-6 and 20-28; Romans 1:1-4; Colossians 1:15- 20). On account of this good news, people of all nations who believe in Jesus have eternal life (John 3:16 and 5:24), which was God’s original intention for humankind.
“We believe that he has called us to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ”
What does it mean to be called to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ? We are familiar with Jesus’s command to “make disciples”, but we may overlook our calling as the people of God.
Read and think about: Genesis 12:1-3 and 18:18-19; Matthew 4:18-20, and then jot down some of the connections (or common denominators) you see between these passages?
As a community of Christ-followers, we are “the people of God”, a calling which began with Abram (later renamed Abraham, by God). He was “called out” from his land and people to go where God was sending him, so that through him “a people” would be formed who would bring blessing to all peoples.
The people of God are a “so that” people in both the Old and New Testaments, a people with a purpose. They are “called” (chosen) so that they (and we) would know and display God’s salvation and then invite all nations into it. (Compare Exodus 19:5-6 and 1 Peter 2:9-10)
Referring to Abraham, the Lord said,
“For I have chosen him [CALLING], so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just [OBEDIENCE], so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him [MISSION].” (Genesis 18:19)
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, the Scriptures record it this way:
“Come [CALLING], follow me [OBEDIENCE],” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people [MISSION].” (Matthew 4:19)
The reason for our calling is so that we will form a witness community that shows (through faithful obedience) and tells (through faithful witness) others about what God has done (his good news).
In other words, we are called to be and to make disciples! (Mark 3:14) We are not just called to be “gospel proclaimers”, but also a “gospel community”, those who display the character of Christ in and through our lives together. This living testimony, being disciples together, is the foundation of all disciple-making.
Love and power
‘Therefore, compelled by God’s great love and empowered by the Holy Spirit…’
‘God is love.’ This may be the most important statement in the Bible. Love is the core of God’s character. It is why Paul affirms love as the most complete description of our life in Christ (1 Corinthians 13).
God is not just a lover, He is love (1 John 4:8, 16). Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in perfect love, giving each other worth and value. This perfect love overflowed in creation, and humanity is the ultimate object of God’s love, created in his image (Genesis 1:26-27).
Note that the love of God and the Spirit of God are never separate (1 John 4:13). Abiding in love is the evidence of the Spirit in our lives. It is the first “fruit” of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We have God’s love because of the presence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
Crossing barriers to proclaim
“We cross barriers to proclaim the crucified and risen Christ.”
There are many sorts of barriers to gospel ministry. The expected ones include language, culture, customs, religion, ethnicity, economics, social status, geography, education, and generation gaps. The unexpected ones include immoral lifestyles, attitudes, prejudices, denominations, doctrine, and the status quo.
In order to effectively cross barriers in gospel ministry, we must willingly leave that which is comfortable, to “empty” and humble ourselves (Philippians 2:5-8). In this way, we can enter into the lives and stories of those around us. Read 1 Cor 9:19-23 to see how the apostle Paul crossed barriers in gospel ministry by using this principle of personal accommodation:
What barriers do you anticipate facing as you venture out in mission with SIM? Take a moment to pray and ask God to reveal any personal or contextual barriers.
The SIM Purpose and Mission focusses on “making disciples in communities where Christ is least known.” Those communities where Christ is least known are often those where the barriers and therefore the gospel needs are the greatest. Can you identify communities in the area where you currently live where this is true? As you think about moving to a new context how might you seek to identify the greatest barriers and those who sit behind them?
Love and compassion
“…expressing his love and compassion among those who live and die without him.”
When we consider the long story of God’s relationship with his people and the nations in the Old Testament, we clearly see his steadfast, loyal, longsuffering love and compassion. Therefore, since Jesus Christ is God, he is our example (1 Peter 2:21), as the incarnation of God in the world.
Read Matthew 9:18-38 and jot down some thoughts about how this passage teaches us about Jesus’s love and compassion.
Jesus is present among the people. He is there in their context. Too often, we view mission service as ministry “to” people rather than ministry “among” people.
Jesus sees the people as they are. He is aware of their lives and situations. He cares because he is integrated into their stories. We, too, must beware of viewing people as categories, as did the religious leaders of that day. Those leaders constantly labelled people as tax collectors, sinners, and other names.
Jesus identifies with the people in their needs and suffering. Because he is there among them and pays attention to what is happening in their lives, not only does he see them as they are (“without a shepherd”), but also as they can be (followers). Remember, Jesus loves the oppressed and the oppressor equally. In our ministry, we, too, must enter into others’ lives with respect, not pity, because we are all broken people who need a shepherd.
Jesus acts. He pours himself out in ministry. He serves through healing, teaching, and proclaiming. This passage clearly demonstrates the ministry of heart, word, and deed.
Disciples for Christ-centred churches
“We make disciples who will trust and obey Jesus, and become part of Christ-centred churches.”
Making disciples is the process of coming alongside people in their journey of obedience toward Christ (those who are discovering him) and in Christ (those who are already part of the Body of Christ).
Here are some characteristics of a disciple of Jesus Christ?
- Worshipping our King: loving, knowing, and delighting in Jesus
- Believing the Word of Truth: listening to and learning from Jesus
- Applying the Word of Truth: personally obeying and trusting Jesus
- Moving toward the Body and World: actively living and telling the story of Jesus
What would you add to this list?
As we list the characteristics of a disciple it reflects on us (i.e., are we faithful disciples, and are we growing in these areas?), and offers a pathway for encouraging others on their journey toward and in Christ. The New Testament anticipates that disciples will come together in churches where Christ is at the centre.
But what does a church where Christ is at the centre look like? Read Phil 1:3-11 and note down some of the qualities that Paul observes in the church and in which he wants them to grow.
Working together with churches
“We work together with churches to fulfil God’s mission across cultures locally and globally.”
SIM gospel workers, sent by local churches from all over the world, join together in gospel ministry with other churches in global contexts. Global mission is a dynamic global partnership between churches around the world.
The church in Antioch was the first New Testament church to display a culture-crossing mission vision. Prior to Antioch, evangelistic outreach was mostly focused toward Jews and Samaritans. However, unnamed persons in Antioch began telling Jews and Gentiles about Jesus Christ, and many came to believe in Christ. In Antioch, Christ- followers were first called “Christians” by the local population because Jesus Christ’ was their observable identity; it is what others saw in them (Acts 11:26).
Working together with churches around the world requires a vision for and valuing of interdependence, which means we need each other because we complete each other. This is Paul’s main point when he compares the church to a body (1 Corinthians 12). To depend upon one another requires that we trust one another and learn from one another.
Watch this video with Daniel Bourdanné on how churches around the world can learn from each other: Interview with Daniel Bourdanné
What particular issues that Daniel raises do you recognise as being important in relation to the context where the Lord is calling you?
Facilitating participation in mission
“We facilitate the participation in cross-cultural ministry of those whom God is calling.”
Throughout the Bible we see people being sent out on God’s mission. We can only imagine the logistics it took for a missionary journey back then. (Jesus sent out disciples by two and told them to take nothing, but this was probably for a brief period.) We are told of women disciples providing practical support to Jesus and those he sent out. He had obviously assigned some disciples to oversee logistics, finances. He was trained some in leadership. Participation in Christ’s mission involves all sorts of people in many types of roles. God calls and sends missionaries, but he relies on his church, his people, and mission agencies to do the work of “facilitating the participation.”
Every mission worker is a mobiliser. God has called us to make disciples who in turn are also called to make disciples. This is the mission mobilising process.
Mobilisation encourages Christ followers to live out their faith at home, in the workplace, in the community and to the ends of the earth. Involvement in his mission should include praying, giving, going, caring for his workers, and mobilising others. Jesus was a mobiliser!
Read through the SIM Purpose and Mission again. What excites you as you think about why SIM exists and what we seek to do? Jot down some headlines to share with your church leader and SIM mobiliser. Note down any issues that concern you that you would like to talk through with them.
The material above is adapted from SIM’s Convinced! Bible Study series aimed for use with SIM Teams. If you wish to dig deeper the full set of materials can be downloaded here, Convinced!.