Jesus of Nazareth gives God’s loving mission a face, a voice, a pair of sandals. There would be no mission of the church without the mission of Jesus. The importance of Jesus’ own life and message for our mission in the world aught to go without saying. But historically the church has struggled with how its mission should relate to the ministry and teaching of Jesus. On the one hand, some Christian groups, like Francis of Assisi and his followers, have tried to imitate Jesus’ earthly example quite literally. Long before it became trendy to wear WWJD (“What would Jesus do?”) bracelets, Francis’s band tried to replicate Jesus’ wandering life of poverty and his loving service to the poor and the lepers. On the other hand, many Christians have focussed so much on the saving significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection that what Jesus actually said and did is assigned a back row seat. As a result, the church has often settled for simply offering a spiritual salvation to individuals, rather than announcing the dawning reign of God, which creates a new community and transforms every aspect of life.
From Recovering the Full Mission of God by Dean Flemming p.61.