When it was built for an international exposition in the last century, the structure was called monstrous by the citizens of the city, who demanded it be torn down as soon as the exposition was over. Yet from the moment its architect first conceived it, he took pride in it and loyally defended it from those who wished to destroy it. He knew it was destined for greatness. Today it is one of the architectural wonders of the modern world and stands as the primary landmark of Paris, France. The architect, of course, was Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. His famous tower was built in 1889. In the same way, we are struck by Jesus’ loyalty to another structure –the church– which he entrusted to an unlikely band of disciples, whom he defended, prayed for and prepared to spread the gospel. To outsiders, they (and we) must seem like incapable blunderers. But Jesus, the architect of the church, knows this structure is destined for greatness when he returns. -John Berstecher.
The fourth mark of an authentic missional church is discipleship and multiplication.
The church is called by Christ in the Great Commission to develop disciples who in turn produce other disciples. Authentic missional churches recognize the crucial importance of developing leaders who are equipped for ministry in this age. These churches develop a plan to send followers out to equip new leaders for future ministry needs in the local church. The tireless work is to expand the scope and number of their leaders, while we continue to develop current leaders for more active service.
Christian discipleship addresses every dimension of faith and life. It is concerned not only with doing the right thing in every circumstance but also doing the right thing for the right reason.
“Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you. Do this so that you stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as you struggle together, to remain faithful to the gospel.” Phil. 1:27
Christian discipleship requires more than preaching alone can achieve. I love the analogy that preaching to make disciples is like going into a nursery and spraying the milk on the newborn babies. Preaching is powerful; it has behind it the full power and might of the Holy Spirit. But notice Jesus did not just preach to the disciples, he lived on the mission with them. We need to be on a journey with the people we are called to equip for service to develop a multiplication culture.
The fifth mark is how the authentic missional Church engages its community.
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Matthew 10:8
Jesus was telling the disciples in Matthew chapter 10 verse 8 to do what he had empowered them to do in verse 1. “I gave you these gifts so that you can use them to benefit others.” The marks of an authentic missional Church are ones that care for the community in which God has uniquely positioned it to serve. The Church has been called to help the hurting. By meeting physical needs it opens the opportunity that goes deeper into their spiritual needs. Through being the hands, feet and the heart of Jesus, our mercy ministry has kingdom impact. It becomes more than giving people handouts, it is about being the hands, the heart, and the feet of Jesus and then inviting them to meet this Jesus we love and serve. As the Church notices the type of people that Jesus stopped along the side of the road and loved, the ones Jesus ministered too, the people Jesus said are important; then like Jesus, we realize that their lives matter. Whether it is the man born blind or the woman with 12 years of bleeding or the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus noticed people in need. And He did not just say be well and fed. He stopped and met their physical needs and then their spiritual needs. The key to a fruitful ministry is to find a need and fill it. That’s what Jesus has called us to do.
Church members are intentionally evangelistic. The Great Commission compels missional churches to go to 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.
The sixth mark is one that we don’t always feel comfortable talking about, giving generously.
In Malachi 3:10-12, you have what amounts to a lover’s quarrel over money. And God is beginning to dominate the conversation in this lover’s quarrel. God tells them how to solve the problem.
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.”
As you listen to this lovers’ quarrel, when you get to the end of verse 12 listen for the response of God’s people. God has done a lot of talking here. What do God’s people have to say in response? There’s nothing there, is there? God’s people don’t respond. Could it be that the prophet Malachi didn’t include the people’s response because he wants to let us think about how we would complete this story and reflect on how we would respond to God, how we would end this lovers’ quarrel? Are we willing to return to the Lord, the Lord who promises to come back to us? Church members in an authentic missional Church understand generosity and are prepared to accept God’s challenge to give at a level that tests his ability to bless us.
Church members are focused kingdom managers of time, talents, and treasures. These churches foster a climate of generosity. They are not concerned about what they will receive but accept that challenge of Paul in Corinthians to be hilarious givers. Members look for opportunities to help others with all that God has entrusted to them.
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