Mission of the Church
The reason the Church exists is to evangelize: to send Christ-bearers into the world to live and preach the Good News, transforming the world into the the Kingdom of God -- "on earth as it is in heaven." This is primarily the work of the laity, who have a unique knowledge of and presence in the world.
The Second Vatican Council marked a decided shift in how the Church understands itself. Over 40 years after the Council, we are still struggling to implement its vision.
Our Reason For Being
Our mission defines our purpose, our reason for existing, and what we are trying to accomplish together. We not only have to be aware of this mission but we have to articulate it clearly and profess it, both to our fellow Catholics and to others. This mission is the Church's top priority, and it should inform and influence everything we do.
From Jesus and the Holy Spirit
The Church inherited its mission from Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus prepared for the Church to take on this mission, promising to send the Holy Spirit for the Church.
Sent Out Into the World
The mission field to which we are sent is the whole world. The root of the word "mission" means being "sent."
The Kingdom of God
The mission of the Church is to bring about the Kingdom of God "on earth as it is in heaven," through word and action. Jesus mentions the Kingdom over 100 times in the Gospels.
Preaching the Good News
Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel -- the Good News -- of Jesus, the Kingdom, and salvation. The Gospel and the person of Jesus inform the way we live our lives, and we cannot help sharing them with others.
This single word encapsulates the mission of the Church. Beginning in conversion, this action is carried about by the way we live out our lives in the world (witness) and how we explicitly share our faith with others (sharing). Evangelization is initially directed at the Church itself, and then at both those who have never heard the Gospel and those Christians no longer active in the Church.
At All Levels
Our mission applies to every level of the Church: globally, at the diocesan level, in our local parishes and organizations, and finally with each individual Christian.
All efforts directed toward the mission of the Church are referred to as the apostolate, the role of being an apostle. All Christians, lay and ordained, participate in the apostolate.
Cooperation Outside the Church
In carrying out the Church's mission, we are called to cooperate with other Christians, those of other faiths, and even those who do not profess a faith.
We have many Church words related to the the mission of the Church and how we understand discipleship and evangelization. It ultimately comes down to how we live out our lives focused on the Gospel: continuing our conversion in relationship with Jesus, living lives of discipleship, and sharing our faith with others. On this site, we call it "Gospel living."
Church Documents & Statements
The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father.
On the Missionary Activity of the Church (Ad Gentes), 2
Second Vatican Council
When Jesus, having died on the cross for humanity, rose again from the dead, he appeared as Lord, Christ, and priest established for ever, and he poured out on his disciples the Spirit promised by the Father. Henceforward the church, equipped with the gifts of its founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God, and is, on earth, the seed and the beginning of that kingdom. While it slowly grows to maturity, the Church longs for the completed kingdom and, with all its strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its king.
The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium)
Second Vatican Council
The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father, to enable all men to share in His saving redemption, and that through them the whole world might enter into a relationship with Christ.
Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem), 2
Second Vatican Council
The mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion. As the second millennium after Christ's coming draws to an end, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service. It is the Spirit who impels us to proclaim the great works of God: "For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!"
Pope John Paul II
We proclaim that, through our faith, the stories of Christ continue and that our lives are part of the story of salvation....you have received the Spirit of Christ Jesus, which brings salvation and hope; your lives are a witness of faith. Whether you were baptized as a child or joined the Church as an adult, you have a story of faith. Whether you sincerely live your faith in quiet or have a great public ministry, you have a story of faith. Whether you have a grade-school knowledge of the Catechism or have a theological degree, you have a story of faith.
Go And Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, 4-8
We are eager to witness and share the word of life about the reign of God faithfully, so that each new generation can hear this word in its own accents and discover Christ as its Savior.
God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes [to the world]. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.
Pope John Paul II
Those who have received the Good News and who have been gathered by it into the community of salvation can and must communicate and spread it. The Church knows this. She has a vivid awareness of the fact that the Savior's words, "I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God," apply in all truth to herself... It is with joy and consolation that at the end of the great Assembly of 1974 we heard these illuminating words: "We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church." It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present-day society make all the more urgent. Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ's sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious resurrection.
Evangelization in the Modern World (Evangelii Nuntiandi), 14
Pope Paul VI
Of course, a difficult mission awaits us ahead, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it becomes an exciting mission. All of us experience our poverty, and weakness in bringing to the world the precious treasure of the Gospel, but we must constantly repeat Saint Paul’s words: "... We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God, and not from us" (2 Cor 4:7). This must always give us courage, knowing that the power of evangelization comes from God, and belongs to Him. We are called to open ourselves more and more to the Holy Spirit, to offer all our willingness to be instruments of God's mercy, his tenderness, his love for every man and every woman, and especially for the poor, the excluded, and the marginalized. And this holds for every Christian, for the whole Church. It is not an optional mission, but an essential one. As Saint Paul said: "If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16). God's salvation is for everyone!
Go. During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).
World Youth Day Homily
"But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?"
See also Evangelization.
Second Vatican Council