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- Background to the Study
“Mission” is the divine activity of sending intermediaries whether supernatural or human to speak or do God’s will so that God’s purposes for judgment or redemption which God sends his people into the world to do. The word “mission” is properly a comprehensive word, embracing everything are furthered.
Mission is the heart beat of God and therefore it is the task of the church to be fully involved in it because the local church is God’s agent for mission. The task of mission is a great one and the Local church need to understand it in order to be focused and responsible in the way She encourage or take part in it.
God has commissioned the Local church to reach nations with the gospel, and to ensure that God’s purpose to be realized – of drawing to himself those from every tribe, tongue, nation and people and the Church must fully be awake to the call and not be negligent of it. God has no need to use ‘means’ in the work of evangelizing the world. That is to say, he could, if he chose, speak directly to people to tell them the gospel himself. However, usually, God does use means – of the Local Church, Christians who have heard the gospel, believed it, put their faith in Jesus Christ and who then go on to tell the gospel to others.
God has laid the responsibility of mission on his people (the Local Church), and specifically on the local church, the body of Christ. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus gives his disciples this mammoth task of reaching all the nations of the world. How are they going to do it? The model is set down for us in the book of Acts.
The pattern set out for us, therefore, is one in which local churches send out members they have recognized as gifted by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel – supporting them materially and in prayer, recognizing churches established in other places as their brethren, and cooperating together with them in the missionary task.
Thus the aim of mission is to see more churches established and biblically equipped. This is what Paul did as he went to Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica – in each place a church was established, taught, and elders were appointed to care for the flock. Many of the New Testament letters were written on the mission field to churches established by mission.
The work of mission should be church-based and church-focused at both ends. A local church should do the sending of missionaries and a newly planted local church should be the result.
It has been observed in Nigeria that there are more churches in the cities than rural areas, and specifically the coastal regions where life is usually very difficult. It has also been noted that more pastors prefer to set up their ministries or go for evangelism abroad than stay in their locality to spread the gospel. The biblical injunction did not talk about border line for evangelism. What does the scripture say about where to evangelise? Mark 16: 15-16 says: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Matt. 24:14 also says: And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.