But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (ESV)
Exiting the highway, we pulled up to the stop sign to make our turn. Standing beside the road was a man holding a sign, which read, “The Struggle is Real.” With those four words, he conveyed the reality that many people face who struggles day in and day out with poverty. While I don’t know his exact situation or the circumstances that brought him to that point in his life, I do know that for many, the struggle is real.
As a pastor and leader, casting vision and moving the church forward can often be a challenge, to say the least. We all know that vision is life-giving to a church, yet we also know that the struggle is real in moving a church toward its God-given purpose and mission. While there are a plethora of suggestions concerning how to move churches forward, the word of God is clear, we must be missional in purpose in order to be a healthy church.
This is not an idea that I came across because of my great creative mind, but because I was forced to think about the church and its purpose in a different way. I knew that the church was a sending organization and that its members must be involved in the ministry of the church, but moving people in that direction was challenging to say the least. However, I had a former pastor make a request that I couldn’t help but commit to.
When I became pastor of Tecumseh, the former pastor asked me to commit to keeping up the missionary support that had been established. While I knew that missions were an important part of the church, this critical ministry became the lifeblood of all that we were to do in the church, community, state and around the world. The problem came when I looked at the budget versus the pledges and realized that missions giving was not adding up to the monthly missions budget.
For a guy who likes for budgets to be balanced and that we build some cushion for future expenses, this became a challenge to me. Additionally, if we are going to encourage people to give, how do we motivate them to commit to the mission? So for the next 15 years, we made missions a priority. The residual result was not something that I had expected.
During that period of time, we never balanced the missions budget and I must say that I am glad we never did, because it not only became an important part of our church focus, but it also moved our church in a new direction. It brought new life to the church and ultimately helped us become healthier as a whole.
Here are some of the benefits of being a missional church:
1. It allows the church to see the world through God’s eyes. Seeing people through the eyes of God challenges the church to join together with what he is doing to reach the lost. Love, grace, and compassion become a defining characteristic of a missional church.
2. It allows the church to see the big picture of Kingdom work. We begin to see that the Kingdom of God is bigger than the local congregation and that we can easily affect the work by simply joining together in partnership with missionaries and ministries around the world. Missional churches have an outward focus and will do what it takes to see the Kingdom of God move forward.
3. It gives the church the responsibility for the mission. Missional churches will take the responsibility to fulfill the needs of others and when they do, they take ownership of ministry. Being missional brings people to a new level of generosity.
4. It gives life and vitality to the church. As we become a part of what God is doing in his Church, that he blesses our efforts. At the same time, we must recognize that becoming a missional church will put our focus on the Kingdom which will also affect how we minister locally.
While this list is not exhaustive and there is not enough room for further exposition of this idea, know that being missional has a lasting and life-giving effect upon your church and ministries. Some of the healthiest churches, both large and small, are missional in nature.
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