A Christian mission has been widely defined, since the Lausanne Congress of 1974, as that which is designed “to form a viable indigenous church-planting movement.” This definition is motivated a by theologically imperative theme of the Bible to make God known. The definition is claimed to summarize the acts of Jesus‘ ministry, which is taken as a model motivation for all ministries.
The Christian missionary movement seeks to implement churches after the pattern of the first century Apostles. The process of forming disciples is necessarily social. “Church” should be understood in the widest sense, as an organization of believers rather than simply a building. Many churches start by meeting in houses.
Church planting by cross-cultural missionaries leads to the establishment of self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating assemblies of believers. This is the famous “three-self” formula invented by Henry Venn of the London Church Missionary Society in the 19th century. Cross-cultural missionaries are persons who accept church-planting duties go to people outside their culture, as Christ commanded in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
However, Christian missions can more broadly mean any activity in which Christians are involved for world evangelization.
In addition to theological doctrine, many missionaries promote economic development, literacy, education, health care and orphanages, believing these causes advance the glory of God. Christian doctrines (such as the “Doctrine of Love” professed by many missions) may permit the provision of aid without requiring religious conversion.