Simply put, missio Dei is Latin for, “The mission of God,” but, there is much more to this name than its definition. What it means is seen in the redemptive history of God’s interaction with the world He created.
After our first parents rebelled against God’s gracious and loving world a plan was put into motion to bring humanity back into relationship with Him. Genesis 3:15 previews this mission by prophesying that one day a descendent of Eve would crush the head of the serpent (the one who tempted Adam and Eve into rebellion). That prophesy was ultimately fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Scripture teaches us that this mission was fulfilled, and is being fulfilled through the work of the Triune God, whereby the Father sent the Son to live in our place and die in our place. Then the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to apply the work of salvation to the hearts of God’s people. And finally, the Holy Spirit sends the Church into the world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
This sending is what the name missio Dei points to. It is not that followers of Christ are tasked with a mission to save people, but rather, followers of Christ are invited to join in the saving work that God is bringing about in His mission. One theologian puts it this way, “It is not so much that God has a mission for His church in the world, but that God has a church for His mission in the world.” This mission cannot be understood apart from the substitutionary death of Jesus in our place for our sin, and it cannot be proclaimed apart from the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
The reason this name is so important is that it not only succinctly describes the work of God in our world, but also because it reminds us as a local congregation what we are to be about as disciples of Jesus. All biblical churches will grapple with how to best fulfill the Scripture’s picture of what a healthy church does.
There are three main spheres where we see church relationships played out. First, our relationship with God (how we worship), second, our relationship with fellow disciples (how we experience community), and third, our relationship with the world (how we engage mission). When we chose the name missio Dei: Falcon it was because we felt that the third sphere—that which is intentional about loving people who don’t yet know Jesus—was the aspect of ministry that is most often left out. The New Testament is clear, however, there is no such thing as a non-missional Christian. Our desire is that our name would be a continual reminder of the importance of joining in the mission of God—in Falcon, Colorado Springs, Peyton, and the ends of the earth.
1 Christopher J.H Wright, The Mission of God (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 62.
2 It should be noted, the phrase missio Dei has been coopted by many liberal theologians (who deny substitutionary atonement) who teach a social gospel whereby salvation comes through means other than the cross. This is not our understanding of Scripture, nor is it what we wish for our church name to communicate.