Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ

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5 Ways Spiritual Conversations Can Transform Your Witness

Kay and I are on vacation this week. In place of a blogpost, please check out my latest article for CREATOR magazine:  “5 Ways Spiritual Conversation can Transform Your Worship Team”.  This is the technique that revolutionized our SC Baptist Singing Churchmen mission trips the last two years to London and Cleveland OH:


— Mark Powers


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Stop the bleeding! Stop the bleeding!

bandaidsToo many Christians are oblivious to God’s call to be the gospel incarnate in our world. Incarnate means “in the flesh”. Jesus is God in flesh and he calls us to become Christ in bodily form in our communities.

God is calling his church to change the world. We cannot join God on his mission by staying inside the church building. Wake up, church! Something has to splash cold water in our faces and compel us to action. What will God use to stir us from slumber: an economic winter, another attack from an enemy, a natural disaster? Or will we simply be convicted by Christ’s commission to redeem our communities for God?

How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

And how can they preach unless they are sent?

Romans 10:14, NIV

Not all Christians are gifted to be evangelists, but all are called to be missionaries. We must develop a process to grow every church member into an effective missionary. Can you imagine the power and potential for God’s mission in our worship ministries—the resources, the people, the artistic giftedness? How many lives will be impacted by the gospel if we invest those resources in strategic community missions?

In Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies, Gailyn Van Rheenen wrote:

“In a real sense, mission is the very lifeblood of the church. As the body cannot survive without blood, so the church cannot survive without mission. Without blood the body dies; without mission the church dies. As the physical body becomes anemic without sufficient oxygen-carrying red blood cells, so the church becomes anemic if it does not express its faith. Mission is the force that gives the body of Christ vibrancy, purpose, and direction. When the church neglects its role as God’s agent for mission, it is actually neglecting its own lifeblood.”

Wow, what a statement! Is the evangelical church today actually bleeding away its lifeblood by trying to horde our giftedness inside the church building? FLESHING OUT THE GOSPEL IS THE LIFEBLOOD OF THE CHURCH. Statistics show we are in dire need of a transfusion because we have put all our hope in attractional strategies, trying to win the world by getting the world into churches. God is calling us to be Christ incarnate – in the flesh. How can YOU embody the gospel in your community today and tomorrow and the next day?    — Mark Powers

Van Rheenen, Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies, 31.


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Are YOU a Christian Hoarder?

Dutch Fork Back to School Bash 2012Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go,

sell your possessions and give to the poor,

and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”

(Matt. 19:21, NIV.)

It’s true that Jesus used attractional methods to draw a crowd. And, from the crowd that followed Jesus, some became believers. But Jesus matured those believers through a distinct process of discipleship and missions. That process was never limited to sitting in the crowd as a spectator. Instead, God says, “Follow me,” and “Go.” Simply put, our call from God is to go make disciples who make disciples. Even though some will be won to Christ by coming to church, God’s main strategy is for us to go to them. Check out this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arxfLK_sd68

Attractive missional worship focuses on growing worshiping disciples on mission. In contrast, attractional worship might be summarized as attracting people to church to serve Christ inside the church to attract more people into the church.

Again, God’s primary strategy to win the world is to get his church into the world, not the world into churches.

Have you heard of the mental illness of hoarding? People with this illness obtain massive amounts of possessions, jamming them into every space of their home until they have little room to live. When hoarded, possessions, which once had value and meaning, become rotten and useless. Are we spending our lives hoarding our gifts in the church while we ignore the call to pour out those gifts in our community on mission?

When the church trades mission for maintenance, members give up outside relationships and activities to spend their time and talents in church. When this happens new Christians lose the context among their non-believing friends where they can be on mission. And long-time members are kept so busy inside the church that no time remains to be on mission. Church budgets and expenditures also reveal if maintenance has overcome mission. God is calling us to shake the salt from the shaker and place the light of the gospel on the hilltop.  Check out this follow-up YouTube video to the one linked above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJP35eEKGls

A friend of mine was serving as worship leader when his pastor resigned to go serve a mission church in Haiti. The worship leader remained with the church and resolved to lead his church to be more missional. When the church expanded his job description to include managing the church budget, he pronounced that the mission budget would no longer cover expenses for events presented on campus. Attractional events presented on campus would now be funded through program budgets. The mission budget was reserved for true mission projects presented in the community. Bravo!  — Mark Powers


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Here’s What’s Wrong with Our Church Signs

Burnout ChurchForget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18–19

God is on the move in the world today. He is constantly doing a new thing. New Testament scholars point out that the word “immediately” is used 41 times in the gospel of Mark. The use of such a dramatic word underscores the forward momentum of God’s kingdom on earth.

In the last decade, a missional movement has begun among those who realize our church train is on the wrong track headed for a crash. Their prophetic cry implores the church to catch up with the new things God is doing. Fred Luter, New Orleans pastor and first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, while insistent that the gospel remain unchanged, said, “We cannot expect to reach this do-rag, tattoo-wearing, ear-pierced, iPod, iPad, iPhone generation with an eight-track ministry. Things are changing and so we’ve got to some way, somehow change the methods of how we do things.”1

Throughout this book, I have insisted that true worship ignites us to join God on his mission of redemption. The word “redeem” means to recover ownership by paying off a debt. The word “ignite” means to set afire. Authentic worship in spirit and truth ignites our hearts to join God in his mission to redeem the world.  To do that we must get outside of the church!

Eric Alexander, Scottish pastor and theologian, speaking at the Urbana Missions Conference, supported this view:

No Christian man or woman worshiping God and desiring his glory can be unmoved by the fact that there are areas of the world and nations where God is being robbed of his glory. That is why true worship and true mission always go together, and it is why the glory of God is the only ultimate missionary motive. There are, of course, others: compassion for the lost, obedience to the Great Commission and so on. But these are not the ultimate motive. The ultimate motive is the glory of God.”

In the early years of the missional movement, many of its main proponents took a dim view of the present state of corporate worship. Despite being effective missional prophets, they were still trying to comprehend worship in an attractional mindset. When I explain to people that discipleship and missions begin with worship, they often look at me in confusion. Their concept of worship is usually limited to an hour per week designed to attract the world to church. But God is on the move. It’s time for us to move with God and get beyond the attractional methods that have held us back for so many years.  Attractional methodology contends that we will win the world by getting the world into our church buildings.  The Bible says however that we will win the world when we get the church into the world!  (See the Missional Church and Missional Community videos listed under resources in the right column of this blog.  They will help you understand this concept.)

A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.

Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

Matthew 5:14b–16, NIV

As I drive through small towns or across the countryside, I enjoy reading church signs. Have you ever noticed how many church signs contain messages that present the singular message, “Come in”? A prominent billboard proclaims, “Let’s meet at my house before the game this Sunday! Signed, God.” Is the reader to think that the only way to find God is to go to a church on a Sunday? Service times, event promos, and slogans that push church attendance all show that our focus is inside the walls. Some signs assume the role of drive-by sniper as they attempt to put a 10-second guilt trip on us for not attending their church. I dream that one day I might see a church sign that simply says, “Do you have a need? Can we help you? Call us at 803–888–7777. We’ll do our best to serve you.”  — Mark Powers

1. Ledbetter, “Luter sees genuine open door for ethnic groups,” June 20, 2012.

2. Alexander, “True Worship and True Mission: For the Glory of God,” speech at the Urbana Missions Conference, 1981.