What is the mission of the church? Conservatives will say that the mission of the church, at core, is to save people. Other activities, no matter how laudable, are secondary to this task because there is nothing more important than a person’s eternal destiny. More progressive types will say that the mission of the church is to serve people. That’s partly because people don’t want to be saved any more, but there’s also a gratifying ethical-political edge to it. It’s a way of getting some traction in the world.
Oversimplifying admittedly, I suggest that both the conservatives and the progressives have got it wrong. Saving people and serving people are understandable responses to the crisis of credibility that the church in the secular West faces. But they lack a sense of narrative context and for that reason miss the point.