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The Difference Between a Church and a Mission
by Les Nixon

The use of the word, church, here refers to the local body of
Christian believers who meet together regularly. The Biblical
Church is made up of the worldwide gathering of all Christians who
make up the ‘body-of-Christ’, of all nations and all cultures who
have been drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, are
saved and made whole in Him.

Outback Patrol is a mission. We go to people who live in remote
towns that are too small for church, to help bring them to Christ.
Some locals ask us to become their church. To answer the question,
let me say that we cannot be a church, as the Bible has defined the
differences. Small towns need a home church, and they may begin
them, and provide a sanctuary for their friends. We may help them
to start. But Church is not what we do. Here’s why:

  1. A mission is not a church. A mission does not attract people
    to worship in it’s chapel, if it has one. And it’s purpose is not
    to grow another church, but support the existing one. Yet all
    mission people belong to their local church, and so they

  2. A Church is a place for the gathering of Christian believers. A
    mission wins souls from unbelievers. They are not in conflict
    or contradiction; but are in harmony with each other. Church
    is the place where you meet, as you a part of ‘the-body-of-

  3. A church hires a pastor to draw people to get on-board the
    great ship of the church. A mission is like the small fishing
    vessels, and urges Christians to go sailing into the oceans
    of the world, and lower the nets for the fish.

  4. A pastor cannot survive without familiar people around him
    every week; a mission grows by sending people out into the
    harvest of the world to reap more souls for Christ. Mission is
    like the bell in the church tower, or the people singing “Come
    to Jesus.”

  5. A Church grows by addition; a mission by multiplication. A
    church attracts; a mission reflects. If a church is like a sun,
    a mission is a moon. A mission does not progress on to be a
    church so that it can expand to be a cathedral. A mission
    draws people to Christ and sends them back to grow in the
    church. The church depends upon the mission to help it
    expand at home; the mission depends on the church to help
    it reap new people elsewhere.

  6. A church is temporarily permanent; a mission is a progress-
    ively moveable and adjustable feast. A church empowers
    missionaries and a mission employs reapers. A pastor nurtures
    his followers and a mission mobilizes them. The church is a
    gathering place; a mission is a sending agency. The church
    holds the cannon, mission fires the shot. A church is the
    storehouse; a mission is the store front.

  7. A church needs to expand it’s assets; a mission depletes its.
    The church is a cafeteria to feed and sustain the people and
    a clinic to heal the hurting. A mission helps the strong to win
    the weak. A pastor serves the people who support him; a
    mission serves the people who have nothing to give. A mission
    gives everything away that the believers give it.

  8. Both a church and a mission are motivated by the theologically
    imperative of the Bible, to make God and Jesus Christ known to
    the world, as outlined in the Gospel’s Great Commission. A
    church is preparation; a mission is implementation. A church
    without a mission is like an army without a conquest.

  9. A church generally meets in a location for the people to be
    private and secure; a mission has no borders to restrict it. A
    mission expects itself to be thrown to the lions to defend
    itself, but a church is not a place of battle; rather of harmony
    and peace. A church raises money; a mission gathers new
    candidates. The mission is the ‘risk department’ of a church.

  10. A church is usually founded upon a “Vision” statement; a
    mission upon a “Mission” statement. A church creates nets
    and keeps them repaired; a mission throw them overboard and
    lets them down and draws them in at the right place in the
    right way for the right reasons. A church sows and plants,
    the mission reaps.

  11. A church renews strength; a mission expands its muscles,
    works up a sweat, and rows the boats to the fish. Mission
    muscles are at full peak, near ready to burst.

  12. There will always be a crossover between the functions and
    priorities of a church and a mission. This is because some
    churches are more or less mission-minded within themselves,
    and some missions are more church minded than they ought.
    They are mutually separate and cooperative, but are not inter-

  13. This explanation may be incomplete and subject to different
    interpretations and changes, so long as the purpose and views
    of their functions are not compromised. And so long as the
    purpose of the Mission is to bring people into a personal
    relationship with Jesus Christ through salvation, and the
    Church’s mandate is to progressively grow them into strong
    followers and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  14. A person seeking to know the differences will have no difficulty
    finding the Biblical basis’ for the Mission and the Church. A
    consistent reading of the Gospels will do it. So long as they
    hold on to a conservative view of hermeneutics, (rightly inter-
    preting Bible teaching according to stablished and approved
    methods). And if they avoid error and cultism, and heed the
    directions of the Lord Jesus Christ, St Paul and the Apostles.
    Anything that is contradictory to the Scripture must be seen
    as not of God. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” His mission
    for us is found in Acts 1:8.

  15. Trying to run a church without mission is like running a petrol
    station without gasoline, on milk, f'instance. And trying to run
    a mission like a church is like reaping the harvest with no
    storehouse to keep it in.

To paraphrase a political glitch in a speech by British PM Tony Blair,
but to mean it in the right sort of way—let me say:

“These are the single most important things we can do.”

For Outback Patrol: It’s Church and Mission!

See: Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:19, Luke 12:8 and John 3:16,
Acts 1:8, and various others. See also: Acts 2:46, 5:42, Romans
16:5, 16:23, I Corinthians 1:11, 16:19 and 14:26. And Acts 6:3,
I Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1;6-9. And Matthew 18:17-18, I Corinthians
5:1-13, II Corinthians 2:5-8, and various others.

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