In a post that goes pretty deep, Jonathan Seitz gets at the meaning of mission. The whole post can be read over here, but I’d like to highlight a couple of paragraphs.
At its root, mission (Latin: missio) is simply the word for sending. Many of our English words contain this sending root: admission, commission, emission, omission, permission, remission, submission, transmission. Classically, mission first occurred in theological language about God’s sending (of the Son, of the Church). David Bosch, in his famous book Transforming Mission, notes that the scriptures have no single word for mission but that dozens of words like ‘proclaim’, witness’, or ‘send’ express the sentiment. ‘Missionary’ was traditionally the go-to adjective to describe God’s sending (‘God is a missionary God’).
Mission language advances a Christian language of sending, which increasingly is interpreted theologically. In recent years, a number of scholars have also tried to urge theology to take mission seriously, presenting mission as a central theological concern…
Theology seems to be coming around to mission as central to who God is, and the missional movement draws on a core of Reformed theologians. When I took Darrell Guder’s doctoral seminar on missional theology a decade ago, he included figures like Lesslie Newbigin, the Reformed critic of Christendom, as well as theologians like Barth and mission scholars like David Bosch. Each saw a need to advocate for a concept of sending in Christian theology, using classical languages of Christian witness, apostolocity, or sent-ness.
When talking about this in the local church, it’s hard to get this deep all the time. I appreciate the work that Seitz has put in.