Missio Dei

Why We Do What We Do || Why Sunday Liturgy?

Each Sunday we have a unique opportunity to gather as God’s people to hear from his Word, be reminded of his Story, sing his praise, and enjoy his presence. As a church family, we gather around Jesus and his remarkable grace. Over the course of ninety minutes we have an order of worship: readings, prayers, songs, sermons, announcements, and sometimes a potluck meal. All those parts make up a Liturgy. Liturgy has been described as ‘embodied worship’; worship expressed through a certain visible order or structure (thus the phrase “order of worship”).

Liturgy simply means “the work of the people.” In one sense ‘liturgy’ is what we do together as we gather to worship God. But in a much deeper sense, liturgy isn’t at all about what we do; its about what God does. Each Sunday, we believe that we encounter God through song, scripture, sacrament (communion and baptism) and the fellowship of the saints. In other words, we gather around the Word and the Table, singing and praying together as the family of God, listening to the Spirit of God along the way. In our liturgy, we draw from the rich treasury of the Church's historic worship practices while being attentive to the fresh work of the Spirit in our day. Our worship at Missio is rooted in history with room for mystery.

Many think of liturgy in terms of something churches did in the past or what more formal churches do today. We’ve found that instead of thinking in terms of “Formal/Informal,” it is more helpful to think in terms of “Intentional/Unintentional.” We want to be intentional with our Sunday gatherings. Our liturgy is not put together haphazardly. The repetition, the structure, and the communal nature of the liturgy is all done on purpose with the prayer that the Spirit draws us into God’s Story again and again. So much of our lives are lived out hearing other stories with other saviors. In the ninety minutes we have week after week, month after month, year after year, we are drawn anew into God’s story. We are formed to be a community shaped by the Gospel and sent out on God’s mission.


We could give a ton of reasons, but here are a few:

Liturgy tells the True Story of God. Each day we are bombarded with false stories that prompt individualism, promote consumerism and push hyped-up emotionalism. We need to fight these idols with the good news of the gospel. Our liturgy draws us back each week into God’s true story (we’ll talk more this week about the elements of our liturgy and how they do just that!)

Liturgy helps form a missional people. We are called to declare and demonstrate the good news of Jesus Christ in all of life. We are a missional people who must have our desires, our vision, our very selves reordered out of the ways we have been trained in consumerist America and ‘re-gospelled’ into the Missio Dei. Liturgy that is Scriptural, historical, theological, accessible and organic (part of everyday life) helps form us as God’s servant missionaries who are equipped and sent out, energized and empowered by the Spirit to bring good news to our neighborhoods, workplaces, communities and homes.

Liturgy teaches us how to worship. Liturgy teaches us to reorient our lives in complete devotion to God. Liturgy calls us to repentance and faith as we acknowledge God as King of all creation; as we confess our sins; as we embrace the promise and reality of forgiveness; as we hear God’s Word preached and read it together; as we celebrate the gospel in the Lord’s Supper. Liturgy helps us to rehearse Christ-centered worship and allows engagement with the Holy Spirit to be sent out on mission.

Liturgy creates much-needed habits. James K.A. Smith’s work has been influential in teaching how all of us have liturgies in life that shape and form what we love (read his book, “You Are What You Love”). We know by knowledge and experience that doing something as a regular rhythm of life can be powerful. Our habits form what we love, and we are shaped by what we love. Each Sunday we come back to something familiar to us. We are shaped and formed by Christ-saturated liturgy. We stand together and acknowledge God’s power and sovereignty. We confess our sins together. We hear the God-breathed word of scripture. We sing praises to our King. We partake in the Lord’s Supper, having our faith nourished once again in a tangible and visible representation of God’s grace. These rhythms and habits are powerful and life changing.

May the Holy Spirit shape and guide our Sunday liturgy, using it to form us as Jesus’ disciples and to send us out as faithful missional communities. To God be the glory!

How We Grow as a Missional Church

*We’ve been going through the Missio Basics, a four-week preaching series aiming to reorient us around four gospel distinctives that fuel Missio Dei Peoria. These four “basics”--gather, go, grow and give--help to shape and define the way we live out our gospel identity here, near and far for the glory of God. You can read more about these four “basics" here.*  

A few weeks ago, we looked at several ways in which we grow in the gospel, abiding in Christ so that we are saturated with his power and presence in our lives. As new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), we seek to become mature disciples who are sent out on God’s mission to make, mature and multiply disciples. What is a disciple? A follower of Jesus who is increasingly learning how to submit his or her life to the empowering presence and lordship of Jesus. As we grow in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) we increasingly grow as disciples in our awareness of our need for Jesus in the everyday stuff of life. We learn to walk with Jesus and learn to be led by Jesus in every place and in every way.

Learning to submit all of our lives to Jesus doesn’t happen overnight. We believe that discipleship is on-going process of increasingly submitting all of life to the empowering presence and lordship of Jesus.

All-of-life is the key! Learning to follow, trust, and obey Jesus in the everyday stuff of life—and training others to do the same—requires that we listen and obey God’s word in three essential environments: life on life, life in community and life on mission.



Life on life discipleship means that we get up close and personal with others. People have access to our lives and are committed to speaking the good news of Jesus to us. We become vulnerable and real with others, providing the opportunity for God to grow us in his grace in and through the love, words and actions of his people—people who are committed to bringing our brokenness out into the open and reminding us of the gospel of Jesus that restores us.

Jesus lived life on life with his disciples. He knew them intimately. He observed what they believed and watched the way they lived their lives as they followed him. He knew their brokenness and witnessed all the wrong they said and did. They were exposed. And as they were exposed, Jesus helped them to be restored.

If we desire to be a people who are learning to submit all of our lives to the power and presence of Jesus, we need to have people in our lives who get up close and personal with us. We need people to speak the gospel to us when they observe our faulty thinking and sinful behaviors. We need disciples in our lives who tell us when we’re not believing the truth about Jesus and what he has done to transform us.

Life on life discipleship means we have to be willing to be vulnerable with others, knowing full well that it will get messy, uncomfortable and difficult. But God is gracious. He will use this process to grow us in becoming devoted followers of Jesus in all of life.



When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus we see that he discipled his followers as they lived life together in community. In fact, looking through the gospels, you could say that this was the primary way he discipled! As the disciples followed Jesus for three years, they did so together—learning, growing, even failing!—together.

The church is Jesus’ body. It is one body made up of many parts (Romans 12:4-6;  1 Cor. 12:12-31). Each of us has a role in equipping one another in building up the body of Christ, with a commitment to see one another develop into a mature disciple. In fact, discipleship that happens as we live life together in community will lead to disciples looking more like Jesus as he works through his body.

One of the things we believe about our true identity in Jesus is that we are God’s family. We are children of God and brothers and sisters of one another in Jesus. The life we now live as God’s family is not a burden; its a privilege. We share life together in community, centered on the gospel, showing the world what God is like in and through our lives together.



Jesus called his disciples to follow him on his mission to make other disciples. He taught his disciples how to make disciples as they lived on mission together, telling them that he would make them “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). The disciples were witnesses to everything Jesus said and did. They walked with him, talked with him, learned from him. They saw Jesus demonstrate compassion and mercy, forgiveness and love. They saw him cast out demons and heal the lame and sick.

Jesus used the mission to shape and form his disciples. While on mission, the disciples’ own sinful hearts were exposed as Jesus challenged them to think correctly about God, the kingdom and themselves. The disciples learned quickly while on mission that they were selfish, prideful, angry, and ignorant. Yet, Jesus moved toward them in forgiveness and love, always training them in the true ways of God. After awhile, Jesus invited the disciples to share in the work he was doing. He sent them out on his mission together—preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. After their return, they reported to Jesus all that they had experienced (read Luke 9 and Luke 10). Still, the disciples had much more to learn. For three years, Jesus trained his disciples, nourishing their hearts, minds and hands to live their lives for God’s glory and God’s mission. Jesus trained his disciples for mission while they were on mission!


Our God is a missionary God, and we see his missionary heart all throughout the biblical story. God sent his own Son to earth to rescue and restore all of humanity and creation from the tragic affects of sin. Jesus came to be one of us, to live among us—to be with us!

Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection saying, "'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:21-22).

Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to empower his disciples to know his true word and to fulfill the mission of making disciples! And for those of us who belong to Jesus, we too, have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, teaching us all of God’s truth and empowering us to live out the gospel in all of life—life on life, life in community and life on mission.

Just as Jesus’ Father sent him, he now sends us. We are missionaries…literally, “sent ones.” We are disciples…learning to increasingly submit all of our lives to the empowering presence and lordship of Jesus. In Christ’s power, may we seek to live all of life for the glory of God!

Why We Gather As A Missional Church

*This past Sunday we kicked off our new series, "Missio Basics," a four-week preaching series aiming to reorient us around four gospel distinctives that fuel Missio Dei Peoria. These four “basics”--gather, go, grow and give--help to shape and define the way we live out our gospel identity here, near and far for the glory of God. You can read more about these four “basics here.  

If you’ve been a part of Missio Dei Peoria for any length of time you’ve heard us teach that church isn’t an event or a building. You’ve heard us preach that the church is God’s people, saved by God’s power, for God’s purposes. We emphasize the importance of living everyday life with what we call gospel intentionality—purposely living out the good news of Jesus in word and deed. We encourage people to see all of life as countless opportunities for evangelism and discipleship, happening over coffee and meals, in the workplace, at the gym, in our neighborhoods. We seek to live our lives as missionary servants, sent by Jesus to show the world what God is like, beautifully demonstrated in a Jesus-centered community on mission (what we call Missional Communities).

So why is it important for us to gather together every Sunday morning to sing and hear a sermon and partake in communion? If we teach that discipleship is life-on-life, in community and on mission, doesn’t a Sunday gathering seem to conflict?

You can listen to Sunday’s sermon for great answers to these questions…in fact, start there!

Heres' some additional thoughts on why we believe it’s essential for the scattered church to gather regularly as a family of missional communities:

1. We gather to remember the gospel story.

The Church is a story-formed community that is rooted in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. As we gather together each week, we sit under the authority of God and hear him speak through his word, the Bible. The Bible narrates the world for the Church, and the gathering of the family of God is the primary place for this to happen. We hear God’s true story loud and clear as we remember his mighty deeds—past, present and future—and find our place in his story. The organization of our gatherings, including the songs we sing, the liturgical rhythms of praise, confession and assurance we recite together, and the other elements of worship point to who God is and what he has done in Jesus to rescue the world from the ravages of sin.

2. We gather to retell the gospel story.

Each week we gather to hear God’s word preached. Preaching is a powerful means by which God’s people may be nurtured and empowered for God’s mission. Preaching helps us to see that the Bible is one unfolding story that is the true story of the world. Preaching helps us to see that the family of God must learn to live everyday life more and more in this story. Preaching brings listeners face-to-face with Jesus and his saving power to equip us to live all of life for his glory. We retell the good news of Jesus as we encourage one another through times of prayer, sharing of stories, and partaking in communion together.

3. We gather to respond to the gospel story.

Our Sunday gatherings help nurture and form a family of missional communities that are rooted in the gospel and come to know God’s saving power in worship, preaching, and prayer. But it doesn’t stop after the gathering is done. In fact, we gather to be equipped and encouraged so that we can be sent out into our culture as a people living the new life of God’s kingdom. We respond to the gospel story as we live everyday life—Monday through Sunday—with gospel intentionality.

Michael Goheen in his book A Light to the Nations points out that a people responding to the gospel story will be:

  • A community of justice in a world of injustice; a community of generosity and simplicity in a consumer world
  • A community of selfless giving in a world of selfishness and entitlement
  • A community of humble and bold witness to the truth of God in a world of uncertainty
  • A community of hope in a world of disillusionment and consumer satiation
  • A community of joy and thanksgiving in a hedonistic world that frantically pursues pleasure
  • A community that experiences God’s presence in a secular world (pp.209-210)

What other amazing things occur when we gather together? How is God glorified, Christ exalted, and Missio Dei Peoria empowered for mission as we gather together each week?

We Gather | We Go | We Grow | We Give

This past March was a pivotal time for our church family. Fresh off the heels of a beautiful merger between Mosaic Community Church and Church of the Cross, we became Missio Dei Peoria—a church family committed to giving our lives to see the Valley saturated with families of missionary servants, witnessing to the Kingdom of Jesus in word and deed so that every child, woman and man has a daily encounter with the gospel. This is the vision for the entire Missio Dei Communities family. Our mission is to form, equip, and encourage families of Missional Communities in the Valley who declare and demonstrate the gospel. Each congregation of Missio Dei (Camelback, Mesa, Tempe and Peoria) is comprised of multiple Missional Communities who take responsibility to be a faithful embodied witness of the gospel in their city. We are committed to equipping spirit-led communities to make, mature, and multiply disciples who are devoted to the glory of God, the growth of the body, and the good of their cities.

Thinking through this vision and mission stirs my heart with joy! God is working in and through this church to reflect the glory of Christ here, near and far. I’m excited to be a part of what God is doing in this family, and I’m diving all in…are you?

What does it mean to be “all in” with the Missio Dei Peoria family? Consider theses four Missio “basics”:

We Gather: We gather weekly on Sunday morning to meet with God and celebrate all that Jesus is for us. We are sent out and empowered by the Spirit to share and show the gospel with our city.

We Go: We believe a missional community (MC) is a family of missionary servants seeking to make disciples who make disciples. An MC is not primarily a bible study, weekly meeting, self-help group, or a social activist group. Though elements of each these types of groups are often experienced in an MC, none of them fully embodies the vision and mission of a missional community. In MCs we gather as a community to worship and submit all of our lives to Jesus by learning to love one another as family, serve the “least of these” in our midst, and be a witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.

We Grow: We desire to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18) through God's word, through prayer and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit and family of God. Everyone at Missio Dei Peoria is encouraged to be part of a triad of believers called a DNA Group. As we're led by the Holy Spirit, we help one another to: Discover Jesus in the Scriptures, Nurture the truths of the gospel in our hearts, and take Action to obey what Jesus calls us to. These groups (three people of the same gender) meet weekly to share what they are learning and how they are growing as believers in Jesus. This is a time to care for one another and bring deep accountability into each other’s lives.

We Give: We are a people that share our time and resources. This means we help to serve our body in all the areas mentioned above. We are both free and gifted to do this. Free, because Jesus as King served us with his life, so that we can now serve others with His love and power. Gifted, because God, through Jesus, has made us and given us each unique personality and gifting so that we can bring glory to him by serving others in our community. This means we are generous with our money and our possessions in order that the world can be blessed. We are free to do this because God has shared his greatest riches with us by giving us his Son Jesus.

We believe with all our heart that Missio Dei Peoria is called to gather, go, grow and give for the glory of God--here, near and far! We’re giving our lives for this very purpose.

Join us as over the next four Sundays as we look at each of these Missio Dei “basics”. Our prayer is that your love for Jesus, His word, His church and His creation catch fire in your hearts. It’s totally worth it…are you in?

*You can find out more about our vision, mission and distinctives as a Soma church.

Participating in the Missio Dei | Part 4

In part 3 of our series we learned that God had granted Israel an earthly king whose role in leading the people would help nourish Israel’s missional identity and role in being a blessing to all nations. God had promised this earthly king, King David, that another King from David’s line would someday come and rule over a universal and everlasting kingdom. This promise anticipated God’s continued mission though Israel—that all nations would be blessed through them and called into covenant with God. As the earthly king ruled over God’s people, he was to lead the people in God’s power in defeating idolatrous nations, encouraging righteous conformity to God’s law among Israel. Additionally, the king was to promote temple life among Israel. God had established the temple as a symbol of his presence among his people. The temple was to help nourish Israel’s missional identity and role in spreading God’s holy presence among the nations (see 1 Kings 8:27-43).

We see in 1 Kings 8 and in Isaiah 56 that the temple was also to be a place of worship and sacrifice. Both would be essential for Israel’s missional identity and role. God had initiated the sacrificial system so that there could be restored relationship between God and Israel when they broke God’s covenant. We see a beautiful picture of this in Leviticus 9 as Aaron, the high priest, offers multiple offerings unto God: the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the fellowship offering (Leviticus 9:15-17, 22).

The sin offering was a sacrifice that secured forgiveness when sin was transferred to an animal as the priest placed his hands on it and killed it in place of the sinful individual. The burnt offering was a sacrifice that was to be completely burned and dedicated to the Lord. This sacrifice was a picture of the total consecration and dedication following forgiveness. The fellowship offering was a sacrifice that served as a celebration of the restored communion between God and the sinful individual. The emphasis on sacrifice was an important act of worship for Israel, for it was God’s way of making the unholy pure again and restoring fellowship in the presence of God. If Israel was to be a missional people in the sight of the nations, she would need to know and experience God’s forgiveness, renewed commitment to God, and fellowship with God.

The temple also nourished Israel’s missional identity and role by pointing Israel to the goal of God’s redemption: to fill the whole earth with God’s glorious presence (see Habakkuk 2:14). The temple was a place of sacrifice that provided a way of restoration for the people when they failed to keep God’s covenant, thus setting them on the right road of holiness. The temple was a place of worship that nourished Israel’s faith in God as the one, true Lord over all creation. The temple would be a place of exhortation for Israel to embrace God’s universal mission to restore humanity and all creation from the ravages of sin.

God also used his prophets to help nourish Israel in her missional identity and role. The prophets in the Old Testament challenged Israel when they forgot their missional calling and failed to keep covenant with God. We see Israel time and again be engulfed by the darkness of idolatry and fail to be the holy nation God had called them to be. Israel’s earthly kings fail in their calling to lead Israel as well (read 1 and 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles!) Over and over the prophets would call Israel to remember their true identity and purpose for existence. As Israel continued to rebel against God’s rule over their lives, they experienced judgment and banishment from the promised land. The prophets proclaimed that Israel was being judged for their sin against God.

The Old Testament story ends with both failure and hope. Israel fails to be a light to the nations that God had called them to be as they succumb to the darkness of idolatry. God judges his people and sends them into exile. But in God’s mercy, he sends his prophets to encourage the people that all is not lost. The prophets tell of a time when Israel’s sin would be paid for (Isaiah 40:1-2) and a time when Israel would be gathered and renewed to fulfill their missional calling (Ezekiel 36:22-32). This would happen as the climax of God’s Story when his kingdom is finally restored through an anointed king in David’s line and by the power of the Spirit (Joel 2).

For centuries Israel lives in fervent hope that God will keep his promise to gather and renew Israel and establish a worldwide kingdom. Israel longs for God to send his Messiah and Spirit to rescue them from bondage and sin. Israel had a sick and wicked heart (Jeremiah 17:9) and needed a new heart—a new spirit. Israel needed God’s law written on their very being in order to live out her missional identity and role.

Would God be faithful to his promise to gather and renew Israel? Would the promised Messiah finally come and fulfill God’s mission that Israel failed to live out? How does the Story continue?

Participating in the Missio Dei | Part 2

In part one of our short series, we saw how God had called Israel to be his missional people, living in the sight of the nations as a priestly kingdom and holy nation. Israel was to be a community on display—a missional community who would live in God’s ways for God’s glory and for the blessing of the world. God gave Israel his law, which would form and shape them to be his missional people who would reject the destruction of idolatry and walk in the paths of righteousness. As Israel lived in this way, they would be an attractive community of God’s love and blessing, drawing others to God. In order to understand the missional calling of Israel—and the church—we need to recognize the connection between the law and creation. Since Genesis 3, God’s mission had been to restore humanity and all creation from the ravages of sin. God made this promise to Adam, and then began his rescue mission of redemption. Traveling through Exodus, we see God redeem Israel from slavery to Egypt, and begin to form his people to be the conduit of his missional promise. Israel is to embody God’s promise to renew the whole world. The life of Israel is to point backward to God’s original intent for creation and human life. Their life is also to point forward, looking to God’s promise to restore creation.

When God gives the law to Israel, his intent is that the law’s instruction would govern all of Israel’s life. Israel now serves and worships God in a covenant relationship. This relationship involves Israel submitting every area of their lives to God. God’s law would remind Israel that there is no area of human life outside of his rule; for Israel must consecrate their social, personal, financial, familial and cultural lives to him. Thus the law is intended to shape the lives of God’s people so that their lives will reflect his character. Only as God’s law shapes their whole lives will they fulfill his calling to be a missional people who mediate his blessing to the world.

God’s law is good news! The law tells Israel how to live in God’s ways for God’s glory…for their own good! The law also calls Israel to live in a way that challenges the idolatry of the culture surrounding them. As we’ve mentioned already, Israel is to look backward and forward as a contrast community; but they area also to look outward against the idolatry that hijacks and pollutes human life. Because of this, we see the law expanded in the book of Deuteronomy in order to address the dangers Israel will encounter as they make the journey to the promised land. God desires that Israel will conform to his law, so that they will live in a radically transformed way in the sight of the nations around them. As they walk in God’s law, the nations will see that God is the one, true King of all creation.

There is much more to be said regarding Israel’s conformity to God’s law and their carrying out of God’s missional purpose. In fact, the remainder of the Old Testament is a commentary on just how well Israel lives out their God-given role. Israel is to be a light to the nations; however, instead of living over and against the idolatry of the pagan nations, Israel succumbs to the darkness of idolatry. Yet, God acts in mercy and judgment to restore them to their missional calling. God gives Israel everything they need to carry out their vocation: the law, the sacrificial system, priests, a temple, kings and prophets. But Israel continues to walk in rebellion against God. Because of their sin, Israel is judged and banished from the land that God had promised them.

Is there any hope left for Israel? Can they ever hope to live out their missional calling to be a blessing to the nations? Next time we’ll look at how God begins to answer these questions.

Participating In the Missio Dei | Part 1

The Bible tells the true story of God’s mission to rescue and restore the whole world. The missio Dei (Latin for “mission of God” or “sending of God”) involves God setting out on a long journey to restore His good creation from the ravages of humanity’s sin. In love, God promised to make a new world and to gather a people who would embody His work of healing in the midst of human history. This story is nothing less than the true story of the whole world. It begins with the origin of all things and moves toward the goal of all history. It is a story of God’s active mission to heal and liberate His creation, bringing restoration to all of human life and all of the non-human creation. In Genesis 1-2, we see God’s original design for creation. Genesis 3-11 tells the devastating story of man’s rebellion against God and the tragic effect man’s sin has on all creation. In the midst of this darkness, God chooses Abraham to be a light to the nations around him. God promises Abraham that He will make him into a great nation and restore to them the blessing of God’s good creation. He also promises to bless that nation so that they would be a blessing to the world around them (Genesis 12:2-3).

From the beginning, God’s mission is carried out through His chosen community—a people called to show the world what God is like, giving the world a foretaste of what God had originally intended for His creation and what He will ultimately bring about at the end of history. As we have been studying the book of Exodus, we’ve seen that the people of Israel were called to be this community. God delivers and redeems Israel from slavery and idolatry in Egypt and brings them to Mount Sinai in the wilderness. At Mount Sinai, God calls them to be a holy nation and a priestly kingdom (Exodus 19:3-6). This call upon Israel to be a priestly kingdom will involve a life of mediating God’s blessing to the nations around them. They will be a a people on display, proclaiming and demonstrating what God is like and what it means to live in God’s ways.

Exodus 20-23 tells of God giving Israel His decrees and laws—the Torah—which is intended to lead Israel to the abundant life God intended for all humanity in creation. God’s law is to govern all of Israel’s life as they learn to live as a holy a nation. As we learned at the beginning of our Exodus series, Israel’s life was to face in three directions at once: backward, embodying God’s original design and intention for human life; forward, as a sign and preview of God’s final purpose for history; and outward, confronting the idolatry of the nations they were to encounter. God’s law would direct Israel in this orientation of life, forming them to be His missional people who would reject the destruction of idolatry and walk in the paths of righteousness. As Israel lived in this way, they would be an attractive community of God’s love and blessing, drawing others to God.

Over the next several weeks we’ll be looking at how well Israel carries out the missio Dei. We’ll dig into the story of God a bit more and see why it was necessary for Jesus to step onto the stage of history. We’ll also see how the church in the New Testament—as well as today!—is to be a preview and sign of the coming kingdom of God, participating in the missio Dei for the sake of the world.