The Mission is to Make Disciples. Disciples are made by going, baptizing, and teaching others to obey all things that Christ commanded. (Matthew 28:18,19,20) Included in the “all things” that Christ commanded are loving our neighbors as ourselves and loving God with all of our hearts, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:33), and bearing one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
Mission sources church, Mission informs church, Mission provisions church, and Mission shapes church. Once “church” happens, once the need is realized that it’s time to bring better organization, structure, and strength to Mission, whether it be a local church building, an agency, a denomination, or even a loosely related association or network, then this “organization’s” purpose is to unify the brethren, strengthen them, encourage them, and equip them FOR MISSION. If that organization, fellowship, gathering, congregation, or structure doesn’t do that, if it doesn’t put most of its resources, people, gifts, and money into making The Mission bigger, better and faster, then it’s no longer a church. It’s a social club.
The natural progression of mission is to increase in size, scope, and speed. Mission should be exponential. If the expansion of Mission (The Making of Disciples) is not naturally, or supernaturally evolving and expanding according to its God-Directed DNA, then it’s most likely because of human obstacles, disobedience, or self glory seeking. There are times when God slows mission (Acts 16:6), but that should be the exception rather than the rule.
When organizational heads get together to “plant” a church, it should be more like a mission enhancing station than a mission thwarting waiting room. Every church should ask itself if it is putting the bulk of its resources towards increasing, extending, and growing mission, or in the increasing, extending, and growing of itself.
If you’re a Pastor of a Church, or one of its “leaders,” or maybe even on the Board of Directors of the church, ask yourself right now if most of your expenses are put into your church, or put into God’s mission. The Mission has the church. Local churches exist to serve the mission. If when you balance your church account and see that more of your preaching, time, funds, and energy are going into the church instead of into the Mission, then it’s a complete distortion of what biblical church is. The church is to be a living organism, a mission making machine of sorts, not a money-making, self-sustaining, community draining, self aggrandizing operation.
I hear of churches that proudly proclaim that 10% of their income goes directly to mission! As if that’s something to be impressed by. Shouldn’t it be 90% going towards the mission and 10% in sustaining the station that serves mission? I like the word “station,” because that’s what the local church should be, a station where people gather to prepare themselves, along with others, to hone their missional effectiveness.
In reality, when a local church is “planted,” “built,” or “structured,” it often slows mission, controls it, stops it, and “becomes” the mission itself. Most of the ministry, mission, service, preaching, and discipling happens “there,” instead of “out there” – where you SIT instead of where you’re SENT. It becomes an ingrown hair which affects the entire body. Instead of discussions about how to extend reach, the internal language of mission changes to “how we can make ourselves bigger, better, badder, and bullet proof.” Instead of building super highways to mission, it builds more parking lots. We fool ourselves with conversations about balancing the gathering and the scattering because eventually, and if we’re honest, the bulk of the churches resources are directed inward towards maintenance instead of outwards in mission.
If, when you speak of “church planting,” you want to create a place which thwarts mission, stops mission, focuses mission inward, robs mission, and eventually becomes the mission, then NO THANK YOU! If you’re thinking about creating cisterns instead of aqueducts, then you can keep it. If you’re trying to create a missional maze instead of an acceleration station, then shame on you! If your intention is to construct a cloistering cage rather than a catalyzing community, then crumble up your blueprint. If you’re thinking about creating a place whose purpose is to facilitate mission and provision mission then you just might be putting the cart before the horse. Mission provisions and facilitates the church.
Yes, Mission (Scattering) and Church (Gathering) are cyclical. But the gathering should never be the main thing or the thing which requires the most resources to maintain. When the gathering place for mission becomes the mission, it’s time to repent. When that happens, it’s no longer time to shift paradigms, it’s time to shatter them. “For where your church treasure is, there your mission heart will be also.”
So the ‘Church’ throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria
‘Being Built Up’
And ‘Going On’
The fear of the Lord
The comfort of the Holy Spirit
AND it ‘Continued to Increase’
BY ALL MEANS, DO NOT FORSAKE THE ASSEMBLING OF YOURSELVES
BUT DO NOT FORSAKE THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH YOU ASSEMBLE!