How to Develop a Missional Church
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2012 1 Aug
Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Michael Frost's new book, The Road to Missional: Journey to the Center of the Church (Baker Books, 2011).
Jesus wants your church to be oriented around doing His mission work in the world. Evangelizing people and inviting them to church is a start, but truly missional churches must do more to answer Jesus’ call.
Mission involves more than just evangelism activities or church programs; it means constantly announcing and demonstrating God’s universal reign through Jesus Christ. Missional churches are those that show people caught in a fallen world how God is at work redeeming it, and how they can join the great story of redemption themselves.
Here’s how you can develop your church into one that participates constantly in God’s mission work:
· Evangelize people through both words and actions. When you and others in your church work to evangelize seekers, keep in mind that you need to both communicate the Gospel story through words and show its reality in action through the way you live your lives. Telling people God’s plan to redeem the world from sin is important, but so is embodying the truth you’re proclaiming by giving people signs of God’s redemptive work in your own life. Ask God to help you demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control – in your attitudes and actions. Distinguish yourself from non-Christians by showing people how you rely on God to help you live with integrity, love, and forgiveness. When talking with seekers about their own lives, do more than just let people know how to get into heaven when they die; help them radically reorient their lives around fulfilling God’s purposes for them.
· Focus on God’s kingdom rather than just on your own church. The numerical growth of your church (in attendance and membership) should be just a byproduct of your mission work, not your primary goal. Make your main goal spiritual growth: helping people connect with Jesus and cooperate with His transforming work in every part of their lives. Focus on God’s glory instead of your church’s needs. Seek God’s kingdom first in all you do through your church. Rather than trying to get people into your church, get your church into the world to meet seekers wherever they are. Rather than worrying that people from the sinful world might change your church, send people from your church out into the world to work to change it for the better.
· Die to your selfish plans so that Jesus will bring your ministry to life. Stop trying to minister to people out of your own strength and develop a habit of praying for God to empower you and relying on the strength that He gives you. Let go of any of your own plans that don’t reflect God’s will for your ministry. Be willing to make whatever sacrifices God calls you to make to serve people through your church. Keep in mind that any suffering you have to go through to best serve others will ultimately bless you because it will help you grow to become more like Jesus. Ask God to give you the courage you need to overcome your fears and take action whenever He leads you to do so.
· Work to bring shalom to a broken world. Encourage everyone who ministers through your church to use their talents and skills to the fullest to help bring shalom (God’s redemption) to a fallen world in urgent need of it. Ask God to help you and others in your church be compassionate, hospitable, generous, kind, and forgiving with people. Work to resolve conflicts and bring about peace and reconciliation in relationships between people. Work to overcome injustice and reestablish justice in situations that involve poverty or oppression. Create beauty that draws people to the master Creator – God – by encouraging people in your congregation to produce beautiful music, art, or other types of beautiful craftsmanship projects that can serve as signs of God’s inspiration to others.
· Encourage your church’s members to change their local neighborhoods for the better. Urge the people in your church to reach out to the people they live among and help meet their neighbor’s needs, both through prayer and practical help. Help those in your congregation consider whether God may be calling them to move so they can relocate among people who are poor or marginalized – that way they can disciple people in need, over time. Work as a church to renew local neighborhoods in ways such as building a sense of community, living simple lifestyles to free up resources to address other people’s needs, creating sustainable businesses such as worker co-ops, buying goods and services at local businesses and using fair-trade products, and holding events such as health fairs to help local people with wellness. Get to know the people who live around your church, listen to their stories, and invite them to participate with you in the greater story of the work God is doing to redeem the world. Become agents of grace in the lives of those in your community, showing them glimpses of hope in the midst of their problems, and leading them to trust in Jesus to help them. Then some of them will likely join you in the great work of missions, reaching even more people to connect to God through Jesus and help redeem the world.
Adapted from The Road to Missional: Journey to the Center of the Church, copyright 2011 by Michael Frost. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com.
Michael Frost is vice principal of Morling College; founding director of the Tinsley Institute at Morling college in Sydney, Australia; and a Baptist minister. He is the author of Jesus the Fool, Seeing God in the Ordinary, and Exiles, and the coauthor of The Shaping of Things to Come. He lives in Australia.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles, at: http://angels.about.com/. Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.