Vatican II's famous declaration that "the church on earth is by its very nature missionary"
has often been taken out of context and used to support all manner of
church initiatives. But, the conclusion of the statement--"since . . . it has its origin
in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit"--is of monumental importance.
In The Way of Discipleship, theologian Anthony Gittins describes the eternal
mission of the Trinity, historically brought "down to earth" in the ministry of Jesus
and then continued to the ends of the earth by those called and sent as disciples
throughout future generations. Gittins explains that Christian discipleship must be
the living out of Jesus' own example in many different times and places. He encourages
people of all ages to follow the invitation of Jesus to be missionary disciples.
The Way of Discipleship explores several New Testament examples of Jesus' call
and commissioning, distills the principles involved, and then recontextualizes the
stories so that they pose a direct challenge to disciples today. In this way, Gittins
builds up a picture both of "the Way" of Jesus himself, and of the way today's disciples
can loyally follow his call to mission.