I am privileged to serve in a missional church under the leadership of my friend and pastor, Tullian Tchividjian. Many Christian leaders, including Tim Keller of Redeemer Church in New York, helped the term missional gain a foothold in American churches at the end of the 20th Century. The term, attached to the church as a whole, is meant to explode the concept that missionary “professionals” are the only ones called to live out the Great Commission.
Our missional church is built upon three pillars:
Pillar #1 – Upreach (worship) – our response to God
Pillar #2 – Inreach (community) – our response to each other
Pillar #3 – Outreach (world) – our response to the world
When Jesus told His disciples (and that includes every believer in all churches today) to “go into all the world” (Mark 16:15), He meant what He said! I’ll be blunt: there needs to be a paradigm shift for many of us in the church today; we must change our thinking from the prevalent “come-and-see” mentality to a “go-and-be” mentality. Far too many Christians today—particularly American Christians—believe the church exists for the benefit of its members, who rely on the “professional” staff to evangelize the lost world.
Such thinking is unbiblical! The church—I am not speaking here of the building but all followers of Christ everywhere—was established by God to carry on the mission of Jesus by engaging the culture with the Good News of the Gospel. In a truly missional church every member, both the ordinary and the ordained, is a minister.
As the Pastor of Adult Discipleship at Coral Ridge, it is easy for me to get caught up in the trap of pursuing great programs. To be sure, programs are needed and valuable and part of a solid inreach focus on growing up into Christ. But personal growth is never the end for the missional church. The ultimate goal is for members to grow to go into all the world to proclaim the power of the Gospel. This begins in our own communities—right where we are currently planted. We go forth, armed with the transforming power of the Gospel, which challenges and transforms the vision and values of the secular society around us.
Missional thinking moves us from focusing on how many are in our service to how many we are serving. The primary task of the discipleship leadership team in a missional church is to prepare the body—all of the body—to grow and go in order to engage the culture with the good news of the Gospel. The truly missional church is an alternative Gospel-powered community, and therefore does not fear engaging with the surrounding culture or being absorbed by it. As Tullian says, “We make a difference by being different” . . . and the difference is Jesus Christ.
So what does this mean to you today? It means intentionally living all of life in the posture of a servant sent by God. We are saved for service, having been sent by Jesus with the power of the Gospel to expand the cause of the kingdom right where we are. And we are to do this with our lips and our lives . . . our profession and our practice. We are not only to proclaim to the surrounding culture our hope in Jesus, but we must reach out with the hands of Jesus.
Remember, God the Father sent God the Son, and God the Son sent the 12 apostles. This “sending” model is what it means to be missional and on the move every day for the glory of the King.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!