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Starting New Things – God is a sending community

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Why do mission?

The diocesan vision is fulfilled by growing a sustainable network of Christ-like, lively and diverse Christian communities in every place which are effective in making disciples and in seeking to transform our society and God’s world. This vision is deeply rooted in the purposes of God. The purposes of God, our theology, are revealed in the Biblical narrative.

The purposes of God flow from God’s trinitarian nature. This trinitarian God is community, an ‘Event of relationships’[i]. In the New Testament, God is described through the relationships of the Father, the Son and the Spirit. These relationships are internal to God but are also open to the creation[ii]. This is the classic iconography of Rublev’s ‘Trinity’ shown above.

In this community, the Father is both the creator and the initiator, and according to Moltmann, his title ‘Abba’, denotes intimacy. The Son is identified as the God-human, neither complete nor fulfilled by a single identity[iii]. In and through his love for the Son, the Father creates the world. He sees the world through the Son and destines the Son to be the Lord of the Kingdom for the benefit of humankind. It is through the incarnation of the Son, that God enters the experience of fallen humanity and through his death brings about their forgiveness. The Holy Spirit is the power of creativity, bringing the plans of God to completion in new creation and making the redeeming work of Christ accessible to all[iv].

The nature of God is community but also God’s nature of sending, the Father sends the Son, the Son sends the Spirit. God is therefore a sending community, a community in mission. At the Brandenburg missionary conference in 1932, Karl Barth articulated mission as an activity of God’s self, twenty years later at the Willingen conference, 1952, the concept of Missio Dei was born. Missio Dei is the common term we apply to this aspect of the trinitarian God as a ‘Sending Community’.

If God is a sending community then we as the church must like-wise be a sending community. It’s not enough to just have internal relationships. God is sending God’s self out. Jesus sends out the 12 and the 72, and in Acts the Holy Spirit sends out the church. To be the community of Jesus, who is God, we too must be sent out by the Spirit of God.


When we are reaching out, Starting New things, we are imitating the very nature of God, engaging in God’s purposes and representing God to the whole creation.

To think about:

How does your church reflect God’s community, and how does it reflect God’s sending?

For more posts in this series click here

If you want to talk about Starting Something New, or church growth, or mission in general do get in touch

[i] (Fiddes 37)

[ii] (Moltmann 64)

[iii] (Moltmann p64)

[iv] (Pinnock 29)


Fiddes, Paul S. Participating in God: A Pastoral Doctrine of the Trinity. Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God. St Fortress Press ed, Fortress Press, 1993.

Pinnock, Clark H. Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit. IVP, 1999.