“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew chapter 28, verse 18 to 20.
The Great Commission calls upon, not just missionaries and pastors to go forth, but upon all Christians to go to the nations and make disciples and to teach them so that they will observe the law, which means essentially helping them to live the Christian life as it ought to be lived.
As a church you could have a fantastic worship service, have a great expository sermon that crosses every t and dots every i and so on, but if a church is not missional in its characteristics, it will just be a group of Christians bunching up together by themselves, much like a city on a hill that is hidden, or a lamp that is put under a basket.
What is a missional church anyways?
When I say missional, I am not talking specifically about overseas missions, but I am broadly including local evangelistic endeavours as well. Therefore, a missional church would be a church that is active in evangelism and full of zeal when it comes to getting people saved, and leading souls to Christ.
One thing for sure, a church does not become missional just because it sends out missionaries or is involved in local outreach ministries. A church can be involved in all sorts of missional ministries (abroad or local), yet their members might feel little to none spiritual connection to the ministries that are actually going on. Though they may regularly hear news updates of how well their church is doing missionally, but lest they themselves are also either involved directly or at least spiritually on the same page, a church can become only semi-missional at best.
So, what is the essential ingredient?
I would say “discipleship programme”. Well, it isn’t “the” magical ingredient, but I think it definitely is up there on the top of our list. One of the biggest reasons why a church is not as missional as it could be is because, simply put, the members are not on board spiritually but are alienated from the missional ministries of the church (if there is any at all). Your pastor might give powerful and moving sermons, but unless members themselves are discipled to live out that missional lifestyle and coached by mentors in becoming a daily evangelist, its very hard to get everybody on board with missions and evangelism. Worst case scenario, it can be only the pastor and few elders and deacons who are yearning to spread the gospel, while the rest of us sit comfortably and complacent in our pews, comforting ourselves that “we are doing well” because our church is involved in missional ministries.
Supposedly, more than half of the converts are from relational evangelism. This is when people come to Christ through the influence of their family and friends, people they already have relationship with. If we are able to equip and mould individual members through proper biblical and robust discipleship training, we will be able to not only reach out to more people, but essentially truly act and function as how a church ought to function – spreading the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ and be used as an instrument to bring his elect into the fold.
So many dead churches these days…
Again, I am not here to point fingers at anyone, I myself bear a measure of guilt. We have become much cowardly over the years, keeping to ourselves, in no way being consumed by zeal for his house. Its simply not enough for few people in the church to be passionate about spreading the gospel. Though God is powerful enough to use a mere rock to bring the whole world to Christ, we ought to become an evangelist simply because the Lord has called us to become so, simply because that is what our Father wants from us, to live for his glory.
I pray that all our churches in New Zealand and Australia be so captivated by his glory that we no longer cower, but emulate our forefathers of faith and preach the gospel like there is no tomorrow.
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves the Lord.