A very challenging and theological book pertaining to mission, but one that will greatly shape your perspectives regarding mission is The Open Secret by Lesslie Newbigin. Newbigin’s works are very influential when discussing the nature of mission and have also received attention from the emerging church or more specifically, the missional church movement. Instead of taking a common approach of looking at mission through the lens of The Great Commission, Newbigin begins with the Trinity, proposing that this is where mission stems from – Missio Dei, the mission of God. He writes, “The mission of the church is in fact the church’s obedient participation in that action of the Spirit by which the confession of Jesus as Lord becomes the authentic confession of every new people, each in its own tongue.” This creates transition into the discussion on the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, according to Newbigin, is a sign or foretaste of the kingdom to come. It is hope for a better world, the world we see coming to terms in Revelation. A couple of quotes from the book:
Mission is concerned with nothing less than the completion of all that God has begun to do in the creation of the world and of humankind. Its concern is not sectional but total and universal.
The church represents the presence of the reign of God in the life of the world, not in the triumphalist sense and not in the moralistic sense, but in the sense that it is the place where the mystery of the kingdom present in the dying and rising of Jesus is made present here and now so that all people, righteous and unrighteous, are enabled to taste and share the love of God before whom all are unrighteous and all are accepted as righteous. It is the place where the glory of God actually abides among us so that the love of God is available to sin-burdened men and women.