Does the Church Need a Reformission?
Written by Matthew Ellison.
Matthew is one of our nine Mission Advisors focused on assisting the Missio Nexus association with key insights and wisdom on specific topics and areas of interest. You can learn more about our Mission Advisors and their areas of focus by click here: Mission Advisors
October 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. On All Hallows’ Eve, October 31, 1517, the Roman Church received the world’s most memorable trick-or-treater at its door, when a monk named Martin Luther approached the door of the Wittenberg church in Germany and posted his 95 theses. Many Christians celebrated this historic anniversary as a time to remember the array of biblical truths the Reformation restored to the church—sola fide (by faith alone), sola scriptura (by scriptura alone), solus Christus (through Christ alone), sola gratia (by grace alone), soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone). Not only did the Reformation rediscover the truth of the gospel, it enabled access to the gospel, as the Bible was translated from Latin into vernacular languages across Europe.
However, 500 years later, there are 7,000 people groups, numbering nearly 3 billion n souls, who have yet to hear the same message that swept the world, drawing countless souls into the kingdom and transforming the face of Western civilization. These are the unreached, and they are unreached not because they are unreachable, but because we have chosen not to reach them.
I ask, could the ever-broadening definition of missions be behind the delay in reaching and discipling these peoples who have yet to hear? Well-intentioned attempts to expand the definition of missions may have actually diluted biblical priority placed on it and hindered our efforts at seeing the gospel penetrate the most difficult places on earth. For many churches, missions has come to include local ministry, social and economic empowerment, education and healthcare—all valid and valuable ministry. But is this the Scripture’s understanding of what it means to make disciples of all nations?
As the medieval church discovered, the gospel did not need to be redefined. It needed to be rediscovered. In the same way, our idea of missions need not be redefined. It merely needs to be rediscovered. Perhaps now is the time for a Reformission.