In Steve Childers’ Missions last week we completed our broad sweep of missions throughout the history of the Church. In this overview emerged six marks that reveal a healthy God-honoring, mission focussed, gospel centered movement.
1. Personal Conversion
In the movements we looked at that made a significant impact personal conversion was always stressed. We need to make sure that we don’t have a group mentality but that each member of our church has in fact been converted. What we are battling against is nominal Christianity. We want people that love Jesus and want to perpetuate His message of grace. That only happens when one is truly converted, and that only happens when one receives the Holy Spirit. Craig Ott puts it this way “Mission passion fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit is the locomotive pulling the train of Christian mission.”1
2. Taking sanctification seriously.
Or taking one’s walk with God seriously. If one is converted and indwelled with the Holy Spirit he cannot remain stagnant because the Holy Spirit isn’t stagnant. Overtime one’s love for God and His mission will grow. Along with that obedience will grow and joy and trust in God’s character. When we don’t encourage this sort of lifestyle we cut the legs out from under a deeply rooted faith that is necessary to propel us into risky endeavors to bring the gospel of grace to the ends of the earth.
3. God’s Word to us
The Bible both recounts all of redemptive History and speaks directly to our hearts. This maybe seen as one’s devotional life, but the fact is the word of God is nourishment of our souls. When we are regularly in it seeking to hear from God and be changed it will keep us balanced on the gospel. It will speak to our hearts in moments of despair. It will fuel the fire for missional zeal. And it will remind us that God is in charge and because everything we want and need we already have in Christ, it will free us to serve him with everything that we are.
4. The Kingdom of Priests
Here the emphasis is that role of laity is active not passive. Each believer is indwet with the Holy Spirit and is responsible to learn His voice, trust His leading and not quench Him. The church is not the Lead Pastor or elder team, the church is each and every member. The Pastor and elders are in place at God’s discretion to love and lead the body in Godliness. Their job is to equip the saints for the ministry (Eph 4:12), we are those saints!
5. Societal and Cultural Transformation
If the people are being radically changed individually then this will inevitably lead to cultural and societal renewal. When the values of a people are changed it is reflected in all areas of life. We should be intentional about this as well, this is part of the ministry of the saints. Some will be uniquely wired and gifted to impact different elements of society. This should be encouraged within our churches.
6. Mission is stressed to the ends of the Earth.
There is no way around it. You cannot claim to love God and not love the things He loves. God loves people, He loves them so much that He sent His son to die for them, so that they could be His people. God’s heart is given to us by the Holy Spirit. It may take time, and that’s ok, but eventually the Holy Spirit will reveal His work in his church by there being an intense passion for the lost of the world.
Whatever your context is these are penetrating questions, yet very simple. History can teach us so much about the present if we will take the time to learn from those who have gone before us.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, are these six things manifesting themselves?
1. Ott, Craig (2010-05-01). Encountering Theology of Mission (Encountering Mission): Biblical Foundations, Historical Developments, and Contemporary Issues (Kindle Locations 149-150). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.