Being a Church on Mission
How Are You Seasoning Those Around You?
Matthew 5:13-16 – “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
To be the salt of earth and the light of the world we must develop an understanding of what does it mean to be a Church on Mission – Being a church on mission means that we are intentional and deliberate about reaching others for Christ. It means we are missionaries without ever leaving our zip code. It means we do missions right where God has planted us—in our community, on the job, with family, at school or wherever you find people who are not churched or may be unsaved and have a need for a personal encounter with Christ.
Notice two words in our definition:
- We are intentional – We purpose in our heart to reach our community for Christ. This does not happen by accident, it must be a lifestyle that establishes in each of us a desire to those around us to come into a personal encounter with a living God.
- We are deliberate – We watch for opportunities to share our faith with others. We watch for opportunities to be Christ to another. We might be Christ incarnate to others. Someone has said that we should preach all of the time and some times we use words.
- We do so without ever leaving our zip code. This does not mean that we do not go on foreign mission trips; it simply means that we recognize our mission field is where we have a sphere of influence.
Notice that word program is not used. This is not about establishing another program in the church but rather it is about a lifestyle of passionately displaying the life of Christ so that others can experience His love and touch of grace.
The core values of being on mission:
Every believer is a missionary and every believer is a minister. In the NT we do not see a biblical distinction between evangelism and missions. In fact the word mission or missions is never used in the NT. We are called to share the message of hope to all we encounter that are open to hear the message.
2 Timothy 4: 5 –As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Acts 10:42 – And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
We need to build relationships because in building relationships with others they will be more open to hear the message of Christ’s love. Spend time getting to know others so that trust will grow. Think about how you came to know Christ. Was it not from a personal encounter with someone who loved you enough to share Christ?
We need to love exceptionally because in evangelism our actions speak as loud as our words. Maybe you have become aware of some hardship or a project your neighbor or co-worker is facing. Is there some way that you and your family may help in these things? Jesus knew how our actions speak as loud as our message, so he teaches us to “let our light shine before other men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
We need to proclaim courageously as this kind of evangelism is different than proclamation evangelism, so you may not share the gospel the first time you meet. But, be sensitive to the Spirit’s work and if he opens the door, don’t wait too long before you lead the conversation to spiritual things and to the good news about Jesus Christ.
We must talk their language by speaking in their vernacular.
- The missional church avoids ‘tribal’ language, stylized prayer language, unnecessary evangelical pious ‘jargon’, and archaic language that seeks to set a ‘spritual tone.’
- The missional church avoids ‘we-them’ language, disdainful jokes that mock people of different politics and beliefs, and dismissive, disrespectful comments about those who differ with us.
- The missional church avoids ever talking as if non-believing people are not present. If you speak and discourse as if your whole neighborhood is present (not just scattered Christians), eventually more and more of your neighborhood will find their way in or be invited. Unless all of the above is the outflow of a truly humble-bold gospel-changed heart, it is all just ‘marketing’ and ‘spin.’
We must practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level. Today it is much more illuminating and helpful for a church to define itself over against the world’s values and the non-Christian culture rather than against other believers. It is very important that we not spend our time bashing and criticizing other kinds of churches. While we must align ourselves to denominations that share our distinctives, at the local level we must cooperate and reach out to and support other congregations and churches in our local area.
Characteristics of missional churches – Minfred Minatrea studied a number of missional churches. He defined missional churches as “Reproducing communities of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sent by God, to live and proclaim his kingdom in their world.” He noted nine practices that they have in common (with my explanatory phrases in parentheses):
- Having a high threshold for membership (high expectations for believers).
- Being real, not real religious (being transparent, authentic, with one foot in “the world.”).
- Teaching to obey rather than to know (a practical faith).
- Rewriting worship every week (Creative, participatory Sunday morning services).
- Living apostolically (each believer as a missionary).
- Expecting to change the world (aggressively engaged in transforming communities).
- Ordering actions according to purpose. (Ruthless aligning of resources with mission) .
- Measuring growth by capacity to release rather than retain. (Not megachurches but multiplying churches).
- Placing kingdom concerns first (in contrast to denomination first. Thus, cooperation with other churches).
CONFRONTATIONAL vs. PRAYER EVANGELISM
Confrontational Evangelism has followed this sequence:
- First knock on a door to meet a stranger.
- You have no credibility because you look just like other religious groups who use this approach.
- You intentionally patronize with a spiritual “one-upmanship,” i.e. “I have something you need,” or “your life is not right,” etc.
As you can imagine, the confrontational approach is threatening to the average believer, let alone the average resident who has faced too many of these situations before. As a result, only a small number of believers participate in evangelistic ministry, a ministry that is meant for all.
Prayer Evangelism follows the pattern of Luke 10:5-9:
- Speak peace – give blessing.
- Remain in the house – establish a relationship.
- Heal the sick – discover felt needs and pray for them.
- Proclaim the Kingdom of God is near – invite them to receive Christ.