Missional Church

What is a church?

The Lord Jesus Christ loves His Church, His body. The Church includes every person who belongs to Jesus Christ by faith. This is the universal Church: the big “C” church made up of all believers around the world. We also have local churches: the little “c” churches are the places where we as believers gather to worship, learn God’s Word, serve, and fellowship together. The mission of the Church is found in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 2:42-47.

What is a missional church?

People in the missional church do pray and give so that others may go and serve; yet for them missions are more centered in “being and doing” than “sending and supporting.” The missional church understands that although some may be supported as those sent to other locations, every member of the church is “sent.” Mission is therefore participative rather than simply representative. In this sense, every member is a missionary. Missions are not perceived as one expression of the missional church, but as the essence of the church. We can break down the difference between a mission-minded church and a missional church as follows:

  • The mission-minded church emphasizes sending and supporting; the missional church
  • emphasizes being and doing.
  • The mission-minded church is representative; the missional church is participative.
  • The mission-minded church perceives mission as one expression of its ministry; the missional church perceives mission as the essence of its existence.

The traditional view of a church is a vendor of religious services and goods. Missional church reflects God’s heart. God is on mission. The people of God are too. We are joining God in what He is doing. Missional church is the people of God partnering with God in His redemptive mission in the world.

Theological foundations of missional churches

The Bible reveals that people are created for relationship with God for specific purposes. Foundationally, individuals are created to reflect the image of God, or imago dei (Genesis 1:26—27; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Those who bear His image are sent to serve His mission, missio dei, in the same way that Christ was sent to accomplish the Father’s purpose. Many have found it instructive to simply reflect upon His statements recorded in the Gospel of John. Consider His dependence upon the Father, commitment to the Father’s mission, and His indication of your continued pursuit of His purpose in several verses (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 7:29; 8:29; 9:4; 12:49; 13:20; 17:3, 18; 20:21).

Ultimately, His church exists for the glory of God, gloria dei (1 Chronicles 16: 24, 29; Isaiah 43:1,7; Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 1:5—6, 12—14).

God desires His church to relish in His glory, share His glory among the nations, and reflect His glory in word and deed. The church is a Body made in His image, sent on His mission, to be to His glory!

God was on a mission from Genesis to Revelation. His mission is to save the souls. Since Adam and Eve’s fall, God was on that mission. God picked Abraham. He’d bless Abraham and descendant, Israel, and through them to bless all nations. Israel failed the mission. God then sent his son. Jesus faithfully carried out the mission. He died on the cross to save us from sins. He ascended to heaven and gave us the mission to be the witness for him to the ends of the earth. One day, he’ll come back and completely finish the mission. Since God is on this mission, we need to join Him in this mission.

How to become missional?

Going missional will require that we make three shifts, both in our thinking and in our behavior:

Shift#1: from internal to external in terms of ministry focus

Externally focused ministries take their cues from the environment around them in terms of needs and opportunities. They look for ways to bless and to serve the communities where they are located. Much of their resources, such as calendar space, financial resources, and organizational energy is spent on people who are outside of their churches. When the people of God mistakenly think they are God’s only or primary concern, they become callous to the very people that God is trying to save. Below are some ways that a church resources could be refocused.

Refocusing resources:

Prayer as a resource:

  • Prayer scraping : send people to coffee shops, parks, malls, and pray a simple prayer “Lord, help me see what you see.”
  • Prayer walking: People walk around some neighborhood blocks and pray as they go for the people, businesses, schools, or whatever are moved by the Spirit to pray for.
  • Instead of having an evangelism strategy, having a blessing strategy. Bless three people this week and make sure one of them doesn’t deserve it. Go to the street or a coffee shop, and ask people “How can I ask God to bless you?”

People :

  • Include and develop community ministry in every church ministry department.
  • Develop and publish a list of community needs.
  • Establish and develop relationships with local community service agencies.
  • Assign people to various communities as residence missionaries. How should we make it part of the mission for everyone to follow up with newcomers or the people on the edge of the local church?
  • Adopt a school.

Time and calendar:

  • Make time for church leaders to spend on community services.
  • Make the church calendar a community calendar. Begin church planning from a community calendar.

Facilities: Use facilities to bless the community.

Financial resources: support local community needs.

Technology resources: Use web sites, social media, blogs, etc., to facilitate local community engagement.

Shift #2: from program development to people development

The success of a church should not be measured by how many programs it offers, but how much a person‘s spiritual life grow over the years. We must change our ideas of what it means to develop a disciple, shifting the emphasis from studying Jesus and all things spiritual in an environment protected from the world to following Jesus into the world to join him in his redemptive mission.

Some sample people focused metrics:

  • Number of people reporting they are growing in their prayer life.
  • Amount of time people spend in prayer.
  • Number of people being prayed for.
  • Number of people reporting improved marriage over the time.
  • Number of people reporting improved family life over the time.
  • Number of people reporting improved spiritual life over the time.
  • Number of people serving others in some venue.
  • Number of people practicing intentional blessing strategy for people around them.
  • Number of people serving as mentors.
  • Number of relationships with people who are not church people.

Shift #3: from church-based to kingdom-based in terms of leadership agenda

The church needs to think about kingdom impact more than church growth. In a church centric world, we focus on bringing people on the street into the church. A kingdom centric approach is to bring gospel into people’s lives right where they live, work and play. They don’t just focus on bringing people to church, but also bringing church to people.

The set of activities mentioned in Shift #1 will help with this. We can engage more in both local evangelism and global evangelism, such as setting up people as residence missionaries. We can adopt a remote mission field so that we can work with the missionaries in that areas, co-design gospel coverage plan, send people to that area regularly for short mission trips.

2023-2025 LECC Focus:

Based on the above, LECC’s focus for the next three years is Missional church. The bible verse to represent this direction is Matt 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”