Our Missions Strategy: 1
Over the next few weeks I’d like to spell out, perhaps sporadically, how God has shaped our view of mission. I’m doing this as much for myself and our church as I am for anyone else… sometimes it helps to think out loud on these things.
The first thing I want to say I’m sure seems obvious, but on closer consideration is not something we should take for granted… and that is that we are very committed to empowering our members to be "on mission." The reason I say it is not as "obvious" as you’d first think is that there are two basic approaches to church that are popular.
The first is "attractional"… and that basically is the idea that Sunday morning is the key time for churches to reach people so all the energy goes into getting people to that one spectacular event. The ministry is built primarily around one man, who is himself very fruitful.
The other approach is "incarnational," wherein the members are empowered to carry the power of God into the community. Sunday morning is not the primary place of ministry, nor is the pastor the primarily fruitful minister. Sunday morning is the "staging area" wherein believers are empowered to go be fruitful in the community.
Which approach is correct? Both have an element of truth in them. Sunday morning is, in American culture at least, the place where it is easiest to connect with unbelievers. However, as a pastor my primary goal is not to gather a throng of people merely impacted by my own fruitfulness, but to train people to become fruitful in their own rite. The church is not one, fruitful genius surrounded by several thousand dependent sheep; rather, it is one pastor dedicated to seeing others become every bit the leader he is. After all, 39 of the 40 miracles in the book of Acts happened outside the church. God wants to be in the marketplace, and pastors equip members to take Him there.
That’s why I am unbelievably excited that we had 115 PEOPLE COME TO OUR ‘PROSPECTIVE CHURCH PLANTERS’ LUNCHEON LAST SUNDAY. That’s right… 115 people who are praying about LEAVING our church to go plant churches either somewhere in America or overseas. I love the idea of people leaving our church to go and plant their lives somewhere else. Obviously I want a lot of people WITHIN our church committed to our own community and leading here in RDU through the ministries of our church… but if given the choice between people sitting in the congregation admiring and soaking up my teaching each Sunday or using their ministry gifts in a church plant in an unchurched area, I would without hesitation choose the latter.
Of the people we send out, not all will be "church staff" or "vocational ministry" people–many will go and get "regular jobs" and be a part of the serving, paying, praying, incarnational, Christ-sharing, believing-God-for-awesome-things ministry team in a new community that desperately needs the Gospel.
So, peg 1 of our missions philosophy is that we are committed to empowering people to send them out to build the church.
More to come…