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Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ


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Missional Thinking: Church Planting 101 for Worship Leaders

GFC iconThey said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man,

who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel

to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.” The following day he (Peter) entered Caesarea.

Now Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.

Acts 10:22, 24, HCSB

Here is the goal of missions: That a year from now, there would be more people who know Christ as Savior, as a percentage of the population of a specific people group, than right now. Based on that specific goal, we must “develop a contextual process to reach, disciple, congregationalize (gather), mobilize, and reproduce believers among specific ethnic, lifestyle and life-stage groups,” a definition of missional strategy that Curt Watke teaches in his missional training.

Across America and the world, new strategies are springing up almost daily to accomplish this goal. My purpose is not to recommend one or the other, but rather to encourage us to explore the variety of ways God is moving to win people. The establishment of missional communities is one such strategy sweeping our world. Reggie McNeal accurately chronicles these in his book Missional Communities: The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church. McNeal is careful to say that missional communities can exist alongside our congregational churches as an alternative church life form. And both can and must learn from each other. The term “missional community” embraces a wide variety of groups. In general they are groups of between ten and seventy people collaborating together to fulfill a mission strategy. Sometimes, a missional community is formed by smaller cluster groups such as discipleship groups, etc. Members of missional communities worship, study, grow and do missions together in formal and informal ways. 3DM Ministries, founded by Mike Breen, facilitates missional communities to model the three dimensions of Up-In-Out. This is a close correlation to the full circle of worship-discipleship-mission. I highly recommend Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide by Mike Breen and Alex Absalom for excellent insight into missional communities and how they function. This resource is based on more than 20 years of developing a practical nuts-and-bolts approach to starting highly effective missional communities.

The house church is one prevalent form of missional community. Since New Testament days, the house church has been a powerful seed in church planting. The house church movement is alive and well across the world, moving under the radar of institutional awareness and control. House churches are the engine fueling the rapid growth of Christianity in China, India, Brazil, and many other parts of the world. Lessons from the house church movement—both good and bad—can give excellent insight into leading your worship ministry to become a missional community. You can read more about the house church network at http://housechurch.org/about.html.

Meanwhile, institutional churches are being revitalized by the “mission outpost” strategy. An outpost mission team is called out and trained in the five-fingered-approach specifically to start mission outposts to become new churches under the guidance of the sponsoring church. The mission outpost process is very simple: form and train a mission team, target a people group in your community, place the team at a home or public setting to do missions, form a home discipleship group from contacts made there, and then grow the discipleship group into a house church to reach indigenous people around them.

These strategies and many more are predicated upon finding the “person of peace” and his/her household. In Luke 10:5–7 (NIV), Jesus sent his disciples on mission with this instruction: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”

God shows us where he is about to visit by the presence of one or more people of peace. In the Scripture above we see Cornelius, the person of peace who reached out to Peter and opened his household. God instructs us to look for a person of peace in a target people group and connect with that person and his/her household. If there is no person of peace there, then we simply move on. God may prepare the most unlikely people to be your “person(s) of peace,” so be open to everyone. Finding and building a relationship with the person(s) of peace is the key to connecting with their households—their relational networks. It is imperative to involve persons of peace in our Missional communities as quickly as possible so they embrace the gospel and join God’s mission. This will equip them to be leaders as our outpost grows into an indigenous church or missional community on its own.

So here is the circle of missional strategy:

1. Churches present local mission events;

2. From those events, mission outposts are established to meet people at their point of need on a regular basis in your community through ongoing mission projects;

3. Persons of peace are discovered from the mission outposts and enlisted to host Bible storying groups in their home or another community setting;

4. As people in the group accept Jesus as Savior, the outposts become indigenous house churches;

5. House churches link together to become a constituted church or missional community;

6. These present local mission events . . . and the missional strategy keeps going full circle.

New Testament churches were basically missional communities worshiping, discipling, and doing missions. They reached out to persons of peace in their own communities and established new missional communities household to household. Using this model, Christianity grew exponentially in three centuries from about 1,000 believers in 40 A.D. to 33.8 million by 350 A.D. Would you agree that the strategy worked? Can the strategy work today?

WORSHIP LEADERS – I am challenging YOU to do ongoing Mission projects in and through your worship ministry, discovering persons of peace in YOUR neighborhoods, then discipling them to establish mission outposts for the sharing of the gospel of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. WHO WILL GO? — Mark Powers

  • Watke, “M3 lectures.” South Carolina Baptist Convention, 2012–2013, used with permission.
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Missional Thinking 101 for Worshipers: GET OUT OF THE CHURCH!

MSTour1 Have this attitude in yourselves

which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he existed in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself,

taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Philippians 2: 6–7, NASB

Our Missional Face

The operative word in missions is “incarnation.” John 1:14 (HCSB) says, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.” Incarnate means “in bodily form.” Jesus brought God’s Word to life, in the flesh. As disciples on mission, we bring the gospel to life, in the flesh. In their manual Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide, Mike Breen and Alex Absalom define incarnational as: “changing our message from ‘come to us and look like us’ to ‘we’re coming to you and showing you Christ where you are.’”6

As stated in previous chapters, my definition of missions has become “meeting people at their point of need on a regular basis in your community to build relationships which lead to witnessing opportunities.” Across the past 30 years in the evangelical church, we have emphasized that every church member is a minister, not just the paid staff. But the Bible calls every church member to be a missionary, too. When we incarnate the gospel to the world, ministry will happen alongside missions. Just as Christ became love in the flesh, so must we. The greatest Christian mission force in the world is sitting inside our churches. Break out, church; go embody Christ to your community!  — Mark Powers

BLOG READERS… please join me in this May-June class online at Missional University:

>>Click here for an engaging video about my online class “Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission”: https://vimeo.com/161573899

>>Get info and register here for this class BY APRIL 18: http://missional.university/index.php/swl

 


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Missions 101: Our Missional Message – Jesus is the Only Way to God!

Jesus5 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,

a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him

who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9, NIV

A 2012 study by LifeWay Research asked Protestant pastors and church members to respond to the statement: “If a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity.” The alarming statistic is that 12 percent of Protestant pastors actually agreed with the statement. This means that more than 1 in 10 of the responding pastors does not believe that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Statistics for adults who attend Protestant churches are far more alarming. A startling 26 percent agreed with the statement. That’s more than 1 in 4 Protestant church members polled who don’t believe Jesus is the only way to God.5

The Scriptures call Christians to be a distinctive people. But many Christians today want to look and act like the world to increase our acceptance by the world. Distinctiveness is not something we seem to value as Christians these days. Let’s consider this issue in two parts.

First, the message of the gospel calls Christians to a distinctive belief. Without a distinct message, it is almost impossible for the church to call unbelievers into relationship with God. When we believe that other religions lead to eternal life, the message of Christ and the call to God’s mission of reconciliation go out the window. Any talk-show host or positive-thinking guru can piece together a message from world religions that makes us feel good. American society tells us, “Co-exist! Live, and let live. Lifestyles are in, religion is out. Everybody has a right to embrace their own belief system. There is no right and wrong as long as you don’t hurt someone or their things.”

But God calls his people to boldly proclaim Christ as God’s singular means of reconciliation. Will we listen to our God or to our world?

Jesus said himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV). Mohammed specifically says in the Koran that Jesus is not God. Jewish faith says that the Son of God, the Messiah, has not yet come. Buddhism says that there is no God. Hinduism says there are many gods. These religions are mutually exclusive. You can’t get around that fact. We must offer the world the only thing that will make a difference. Offer them the real truth of God. God designed us to be incomplete without him. He completes us for eternal life exclusively through his only son Jesus. There is no other way to God.

Second, the message of the gospel calls Christians to a distinctive lifestyle. Without a distinctive lifestyle, it is almost impossible for the church to call unbelievers to relationship with God. If our behavior is no different from those around us, how can we tell them that Christ will make a difference in their lives? As discussed previously in this blog, God expects his followers to consistently exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If these qualities do not signify our lives, how can we be significant in pointing others to God? Our distinctive lifestyle must be a bright beacon to our neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And our lives must point to Jesus – the only way to God!  — Mark Powers

Roach, “Pastors Uphold Christian Exclusivity Poll Finds,” http://www.lifeway.com.

BLOG READERS… please join me in this May-June class online at Missional University:

>>Click here for an engaging video about my online class “Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission”: https://vimeo.com/161573899

>>Get info and register here for this class BY APRIL 18: http://missional.university/index.php/swl

 

 


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Missional Thinking 101 for Worshipers: Our Missional Mind

Claiming the Streets  I, the Lord, have called you

for a righteous purpose, and I will hold you by your hand.

I will keep you, and I will make you a covenant for the people and a light to the nations, in order to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those sitting in darkness from the prison house.

I am Yahweh, that is My name.

Isaiah 42:6–8a, HCSB

Mission is the work of God to reconcile our sinful world to himself, and it is eternally rooted in his own will and nature: God originated the mission; Jesus Christ enacted the mission; the Holy Spirit empowers the mission; the church carries out missions; we tell the world the good news of reconciliation through Jesus; a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, becomes a disciple, and joins God’s mission. God’s love goes full circle in missions. John Piper, in Let the Nations Be Glad, wrote, “When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity.”

Gailyn Van Rheenen, in Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies, pointed out that there are at least five things that Christians must understand when we join God’s mission: “First, if mission flows from the character and nature of God, it cannot be neglected by the church. Mission, because it is of God, cannot be aborted. Second, since the mission is of God, God will equip people for the task. If they feel inadequate, he will empower them. Third, the mission of God enables Christian missionaries to understand themselves under God’s sovereignty. Christians should not undertake God’s mission for self-glorification but for the glorification of God. It is God’s enterprise. Fourth, the mission of God implies sacrifice. It is a mission worth living and dying for. Finally, because the mission is God’s, it will succeed. Even though messengers fail and people reject the message, the mission of God continues. God, the source of mission, will raise up new people to carry his message.”

Understanding these five things about missions will help you clarify your role in the mission of God. How many of our church members, or our pastors for that matter, can clearly put into words the mission of God and our work of missions? We are quick to tell anyone what we think our church should be. But our church wish-list seldom mirrors God’s mission in the world.  — Mark Powers

NOTE: – During May and June, I will be teaching an online course based on my book GOING FULL CIRCLE.  The course runs 7 weeks – totally online – and is called “Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission”.  Please join me for this! Cost is $285 plus a $30 tech fee. Go here and scroll down for lots of info and videos about our School of Worship Leadership at Missional University: http://missional.university/index.php/swl.

Credits: Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, page unknown.  ——- Van Rheenen, Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies, 19.