Guest post by Matt Carter
We all say that we desire to pastor a missional church. But how do you know you’re successful? You know you’re pastoring a missional church when your church is full of missional people. When the people sitting in the pews are actually living on mission for God.
I started The Austin Stone Community Church ten years ago. Our church is full of young people. The average age is twenty-six years old.
But getting them all to actually live like Christians is very hard to do. I constantly wrestle with how we cannot be a church that just gathers on Sundays to sing songs together and then leave, thinking we’re all living the Christian life. I also wrestle with how to mobilize all these people in a country where Christianity is rapidly declining.
Missional Communities are the main thrust of how we are attempting to do this. We are taking our people and challenging them to live incarnationally for the Gospel in their context.
But beware. As you begin to make changes in your churches toward missional living and you see the missional temperature in your church begin to rise, one of the temptations that will happen is you will fall more in love with your mission than with your Savior.
You never want to be at a place like this. If you are, then your Savior will have no part in your mission.
You see this in Revelation chapter two. The New Testament church was full of churches that loved their mission and walked away from having Jesus as the center piece. As they did that, Jesus removed His lamp stand, His manifest blessing and presence, from their place. The last thing in the world we want to do is pastor a church where Jesus has removed His blessing.
Don’t love your mission more than your Savior.
Biblical Foundation for Missional Communities
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV)
Think about this verse in the context of your church. Apostles. Prophets. Evangelists. Shepherds. Teachers. That’s you and me, the leadership of the church.
God gave us these giftings for a reason. So we can equip the people in our churches, so they can do the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:16 (ESV)
This is a really convicting verse in light of the fact that we’re seeing Christianity decline in the United States right now. What makes the body of Christ grow? When each part of the body is working properly, so that it builds itself up in love.
So, if the body of Christ in the United States is not growing, what does that say about each individual part of the body of Christ?
We did a survey on a random Sunday that shows how horrible of a job we were doing at equipping our people. We asked the question, “What is your spiritual gift and how are you using it?”
Less than 10% knew what their spiritual gift was and how they were using it to build up the body of Christ.
Paul says the body of Christ grows when each part of the body is functioning properly. We can pat ourselves on the back all day long for having seventy-five hundred people attend a service. But if we’re not helping them discover how God has uniquely designed and gifted them to get into the fight, we’re not being a missional church.