This opening illustration frames the attitude the Church should have regarding missions:
A missionary in Africa was once asked if he liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. “Do I like this work?” he said. “No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonable, refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse. But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to ‘Go,’ and we go. Love constrains us.” –Our Daily Bread.
I want to begin this by discussing the churches in the Book of Acts. The struggle I run into when talking about the Church’s mission based on what was happening in Acts is that we tend to see those churches through rose colored glasses. We see the explosive growth, we see the unity, but we fail to see the flaws. And to be honest, all churches have flaws. Here is what we know about those early churches.
· On that first Pentecost 3,000 souls were added to the church in Jerusalem.
· The church was founded on strong biblical teaching and sound doctrine.
· The believers (we call them laity) had a habit of gathering together daily for prayer and the breaking of bread (Holy Communion)
· The result of this growth in the faith led the people to a life of generosity.
· There was unity as the worshippers gathered daily in the temple.
· It was not all happiness and joy; there were still conflicts.
As we set out to model the missional churches of Acts we love to see only the positive. We need to be prepared for all the issues the churches in Acts faced. Whenever you attempt something great for God, Satan will do everything possible to mess that up. Today I will spend some time on those marks.
Strong Biblical Teaching.
“The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.” Acts 2:42
At the heart of any missional church is the gospel message of Jesus Christ death and resurrection. If we are preaching anything but Christ and him crucified then we are doing harm to those outside of God’s grace. The first mark of the missional church is the church founded on the apostle’s teaching.
Empowering Prayer Life.
The church seeks to know and to follow God’s will. A missional church is a praying church. They never lose sight of the fact that they are God’s people. Sustained by God’s power. And guided by God’s purpose and plan. They are committed not only to God’s will, but doing ministry God’s way.
Vibrant and Christ-centered Worship
The church is a place of dynamic, engaging Christ-centered worship. The styles may vary, but their worship stroked the heart and soul of the worshipper. The Word of God engages and involves people in the mystical union of God and His people. This vibrant worship happens as the Word of God is preached. Christ’s body and blood are shared in the breaking of bread. And the people are God engaged in prayer. Those who attend worship in these churches do not doubt that they have been in the presence of Almighty God.
Sending Discipleship Mindset
The church develops disciples who in turn produce other disciples. Missional churches recognize the crucial importance of developing leaders who are equipped for ministry in this age. These churches plan to send followers out. To equip new leaders for future ministry needs in the local church. They tireless work to expand the scope and number of their leaders, while we continue to develop existing leaders for more active service.
Service to the Community
Church members are intentionally evangelistic. The Great Commission compels missional churches to go the ends of the earth to find the lost through various methods. These churches don’t see evangelism as a program but as a relationship. They seek opportunities to share the gospel with others they encounter in everyday life.
Church members are kingdom focused managers of time, talents, and treasures. These churches foster a climate of generosity. They are not a concerned about what they will receive. Members look for opportunities to help others with all that God has entrusted to them.
“22 change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires. 23 Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit 24 and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24
Like the churches in Acts when we are driven by mission, we will also encounter conflict and disagreements. What separates missional churches from others is how they handle the conflict. Conflict is handled positively, and the end goal is reconciliation. To be realistic, no church can expect to avoid conflict. That would be nice, but the conflict is a part the human condition. But how we handle those differences speaks volumes to the world who is paying attention to the way Christians behave.
Imagine being a member of a church like this. Yes, it can be dynamic, but not without its flaws. If we can have just some of the results of the Acts churches would that be a sight to behold?
Other blogs in this series: