As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:16-18
Today we wrap up the series on steps that churches can take to create an expectation for all people to invite others to Jesus instead of to programs, ministries, functions, or special events. So far we’ve looked at discipleship, culture, language, and community.
Today, we want to talk about mission.
Mission (and the idea of being missional) is one of those popular Christianized words that has tried to sanction a whole bunch of ideas just to make them sound cool.
So we have created brands of missional coffee, missional car pools, and missional meals.
And while any number of those things can be used as mission, our failure is to think that just by adding the word it makes it so.
Mission is more than an idea, a branding slogan, or a rallying cry, it is a posture of life. [Tweet That]
For the future oriented church, it must see mission as a core part of its identity for all people, not a select few.
Here are three ways to create a mission oriented church that invites others to experience Jesus.
Far too many Christians get tied up into the church as a space mentality. They go to church, they attend church, or they tell others about the church, but very few ever make the transition to be the church. Future oriented churches fundamentally begin to see themselves as defined by a people who live on mission, and not a people who gather at a place.
In fact, here is a general rule that I’ve discovered to be true: the more you ask people to attend church, the less time they have to be the church. Successful churches moving forward will carefully balance corporate gathering and community mission. They will sanction all vocations as sacred and empower individuals and neighborhoods to live on mission and share the Good News.
Of all the things I see in the church world, this is perhaps the easiest to say and the hardest to do. Every church will say that this isn’t an issue, but almost all churches really struggle with this.
It’s one thing to empower people to be who God has called them to be, and quite another to let everyone do what they want and hope somebody has success.
Churches that function like the second example often have an unspoken rule of: the first one to succeed gets bragging rights.
So some do children’s ministry because Jesus urges us to bring little children to him. Others start a homeless ministry because Jesus cares about widows and orphans. A third group brings in professional musicians because Jesus needs excellent hymnody in worship. And some will always complain about how they are being persecuted because their budget isn’t as big as the others.
Lazy churches allow this to continue, while successful churches will bring these groups together to see how these ministries relate and function as a part of the whole.
Only churches that are willing to lay aside their personal egos and preferences will ever find success in mission.
That is, everything reflects the mission and heart of Jesus. Mission is intentionally discussed last because this is only possible by first addressing the other areas that we have covered in this series. Without common language, direction, vision, and values, a shared sense of mission is impossible. Small groups must understand that they represent both the entirety of the church and only a small fragment of it at the same time. The mission that they seek to do must align with and advance the mission of everyone else.
Families that decide to live on mission must understand this too. The meals that they share during playdates, the walks to the park, and the cupcakes to school parties are chances to do more than simply be nice, but to intentionally point people to a God who is actively redeeming and restoring all things.
Churches that want to share in the mission of Jesus must spend the hard time examining all that they do. An honest pursuit of Christ forces us to constantly check what we are doing, and the willingness to unselfishly stop whatever isn’t seeing people come to faith. Churches that want to traverse the transition from institutional to missional must understand the mindset change from consumer to participant and from passive to active faith.
The shaping of the Western church in America will be seen against the backdrop of how it adapts its mission to a changing culture that is increasingly growing tired of the legalistic and consumeristic church that they have always known. Churches that desire to have an impact in the future must be willing to tackle these difficult issues in their pursuit of Christ.
What are your thoughts? How do you see mission as a core to the future success of the church?