Recently our staff wrestled with this question: “What action do we ultimately want a church guest to take?” As you might imagine, it was a lively conversation with a variety of answers and even more questions. “We want them to feel welcomed. We want them to return. We want them to respond to the gospel. We want them to desire to attend, serve, and become active members.” The conversation was too lengthy to recount, but much of it revolved around Sunday morning attendance, serving in church programs, giving, and getting plugged in to small groups.
I can imagine this conversation happens in churches across the US and that it’s strikingly similar to ours. However, our church planting initiative is motivating us to look at our modus operandi in a new light. We want to make sure we are planting churches (the gathered people of God, not buildings) that are living out the Missio Dei – the Mission of God. Looked at through this lens, the answer to the above question looks entirely different, doesn’t it?
Dr. John Perkins has said, “People need more than your used clothes, they need the people of God in their neighborhoods.” Our desire is for the children of God to ultimately join the mission of their Father. The doctrine of Missio Dei sees God the Father sending His Son, and God the Father and God the Son sending the Holy Spirit, and the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit sending the church. Charles Spurgeon once challenged his church with this bold statement, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”
Over the last few decades many church leaders have placed great emphasis on the corporate gathering times of the church, and rightly so. During this same time, however, church leaders have struggled with how to send their members to live out the mission of God. This one issue has caused us to engage in literally hundreds of conversations over the past year with members of our church. We have realized that while our members gather together and are greatly encouraged through corporate worship, our sending approach looks more like a “scattered alone” strategy. With this recognition we are now asking members to “scatter together” and to do so as a group of Christ followers sent by Jesus to carry out His mission of making disciples.
We are planting churches that encourage believers to live out this mission daily. We are challenging them to be the rescued children of God seeking to live out the mission of God by rescuing the lost children of God. We believe this is most effective when we live it out together in community with other believers. Now we are asking, “What does it look like for our church to scatter together for the sake of the gospel?”
This article is part one of a five-part conversation. Please feel free to join the conversation by sharing these articles with your staff, leadership team, and lay leaders.