We want every member of our church to live as a disciple-making missionary. We believe the mission Jesus gave to His followers is very clear. He told them to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). He told them that they would never be alone—that He would always be with them (Matthew 28:20). He also modeled sending them out together and His is a pattern worth following (Mark 6:7).
At Family Church, we are learning what it means to be the church “scattering together” for the sake of sharing the compelling good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose to life on the third day (the gospel). Our Lead Pastor, Jimmy Scroggins, has emphasized the gospel in his sermons to the point that most of our regular attenders can quote it verbatim. All of our pastors and ministry leaders keep the gospel at the center of our Bible studies and leadership trainings. Everything we do, we do for the sake of the gospel.
We have operated for many, many years as an attractional church. Like most other churches, our leaders believed that if we built it, they would come. The goal was for our church to become a regional mega-church. Invite, invite, invite was the mantra. We encouraged members to bring people to church events to hear the gospel message proclaimed by the paid professionals. All the while, our county’s unchurched population grew to 90%. We are currently the 11th most unchurched metropolitan city in the U.S. Clearly we know the message works (Romans 1:16), so we must look at our methods.
It’s not what we are doing that needs to change; it’s how we are doing it. And we’re not alone. Many churches are engaging in this conversation. At a Verge Network conference in 2010, Hugh Halter titled his breakout session: “Turning Consumer Christians into Missionaries.” His title aptly describes our dilemma. We clearly need God to change our hearts and our mindsets. We have to move from being “come and see” people to being “go and tell” people. The fact of the matter is it’s a lot easier to invite people to come than it is to go on mission ourselves. Mission work is uncomfortable. We have to be around people we don’t understand. We have to eat unfamiliar food and hear unfamiliar language. The longer we’ve been in church, the more foreign the culture around us becomes. We need God to ignite in us a passion to carry out Jesus’ mission—and we need to keep fueling each other’s fires.
A missional community group can start with as few as six people. This “scattered together” group centers much of their conversations on this question, “How can our group be engaged in living out the mission of Jesus by making disciples?” Our goal is to become disciple-making missionaries living in community with one another. We can still have Bible study, fellowship, accountability and community, but the focus is our mission to be Christ’s ambassadors in the places where we work, play and live.
This means that when we meet together, we will encourage each other to connect with those who have yet to believe in Jesus—both individually and corporately. We will look for ways to gather in casual settings around common activities like a holiday, a sporting event, a game night or an ethnically-themed potluck dinner in someone’s home. We will live in a way that demands a gospel explanation and share the gospel as opportunities arise. We want to learn people’s stories and understand their context, all the while asking God to use us to accomplish His mission of making disciples.
I really don’t see how it can be clearer than that, do you?