I don’t really know much about the history of the Three-Fold Mission of the Church:
To Perfect the Saints, Proclaim the Gospel, and Redeem the Dead
(Perhaps someone can refer something to read)
I do know, however, that the Three-Fold Mission has been a central component of my church experience as long as I can remember. It seems, in most regards, that the Three-Fold Mission is meant to express the purpose of the Church (a “mission statement” for our religious organization). If I were to restate it succinctly it would be something like: To make (and keep) people a part of our church.
It also seems, in light of our previous discussion here at FPR, that the Three-Fold Mission does not account for all aspects of religious life-elements of a “social gospel” (feeding the poor for instance, who are not members of our church), may fall under “perfecting the saints”, but it isn’t an explicit purpose of the Church. I remember on my mission (which is certainly not indicative of all missions), “service” was often viewed as a “finding opportunity” (i.e., proclaiming the gospel).
Also, the purpose of the Church is not to be ecumenical (which I personally find a valuable part of my religious life). In other words the Church is concerned with its sustained growth and not in the relationships it has with other organizations (at least not explicitly). I’m sure there are other areas we could think of that fall outside the purpose of the Church. The question is then, should the mission of the Church be more comprehensive?
Or maybe I’m missing something here. Is the Three-Fold Mission of the Church already comprehensive? If not, should the mission of the Church be more comprehensive, or has it defined itself appropriately for a religious organization that makes the claims it does?