The following is excerpted from “Liturgical Mission” by Winfield Bevins, published by IVP. Winfield is also the author of “Simply Anglican,” published by Anglican Compass.

The word mission comes from the Latin word missio, and simply means “sending” or “being sent.” If we are sent, then there must be a sender. From a Christian perspective, mission begins not with us, but with a trinitarian God who sends the church into the world. However you define it, the missional heart of God forms the foundation of the church’s mission in the world. Mission flows from God, who is the one who initiates and sustains mission?

Mission, therefore, is central to who we are as Christians and what we are called to do as the church and body of Christ. According to missiologist Ed Smither, “Mission has been central to the identity of the Christian movement since its inception—Christianity is a missionary faith.” We are called to participate in God’s holistic mission in word (evangelism, making disciples), deed (caring for human needs, bringing justice, and seeking reconciliation), and stewardship of the earth (creation care).

Rather than seeing mission as something the church does apart from its liturgy, we must realize that mission begins in worship. Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann encourages us to understand that mission flows from the liturgical and sacramental life of the church, “for it alone makes possible the liturgy of mission.” His phrase “the liturgy of mission” is a reminder that liturgy should always lead to the sending activity of the church. Both worship and mission are at the very heart of the church’s calling.

ABOUT THE BOOK

While I am an Anglican, I am writing for the larger body of Christ. In particular, I wrote this book for two types of people. There are those coming from Protestant, evangelical, Pentecostal/charismatic backgrounds who are “liturgical curious” and wondering how they might better understand liturgy. They are intrigued that liturgy and mission can in fact go together.

The second are those from liturgical traditions, whether Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican/Episcopal. They might be wondering how they might personally become more missional without compromising the riches of their liturgical tradition. Actually, I would argue that mission is in the DNA of the Great Tradition of the church. Throughout the ages, some of the greatest missional movements have been liturgical and sacramental in nature. Regardless of which type of Christian you are, this book is for you.

You will probably feel uncomfortable and challenged at times while reading this book. That is a good thing. I want to encourage you to press into the discomfort rather than close the book. We live in a deeply divided world of extremes. Over the last few decades, our world has increasingly become more and more polarized and politicized. Sadly, the church is becoming just as polarized as the world. The answer to many problems facing the church is not going to be found in extremes, but in rediscovering the power of paradox. It is this integration that the church must embrace in order to face the challenges of mission today.

I have learned to live into these tensions by having a foot in both the Liturgical Movement and the missional movement. Each one of these movements has profoundly influenced my life and ministry over the last few decades. At times I have felt a little all over the place, because these two movements rarely seem to intersect with one another. However, when they do connect, something wonderful occurs. I want to explore with you the beautiful tapestry that appears when these two great movements are inter woven.

CONTENTS

Foreword by Justo L. González

Introduction

PART ONE: THE WORK OF THE PEOPLE

  1. Liturgical Renewal
  2. Story-Formed Worship
  3. The Symphony of Liturgy
  4. The Sacramental Life

Interlude: The Kingdom Prayer

PART TWO: FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD

  1. Trinitarian Mission
  2. Unity and Mission
  3. Word and Deed
  4. Toin the Fiesta

Afterword: My Journey

Acknowledgments

Appendix: A Liturgy for Mission

Notes