The missional strategy of the local church is founded upon two key Bible passages. The first is what we know as the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” The other key verse that the missional strategy of the church is founded upon is 2 Timothy 2:2. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Both of these passages describe the crux of the local church’s mission. Our missional strategy is essentially to make disciples who make disciples. We are to preach the Gospel leading others to Christ, disciple them, and send them out on mission. The missional strategy of the church is threefold: make disciples, develop a missional culture, and declare the call to missions.
Make Disciples. In both of our key passages we are given the instruction to pass down to others the things that we have learned and send them out on mission. Disciple making is an essential component of the life and ministry of the church. Everything we do is all about making disciples of Jesus. In making disciples we are, first of all, to make disciples who are growing. 2 Peter 3:18 says, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ….” The church must have a strong educational program that encourages spiritual growth. This is where pastors come in. The primary role of pastors is to teach and equip the saints for the work of the ministry. As the saints learn and grow from the teaching and preaching ministry of the church, they are then able to be teachers themselves and encourage others in their spiritual growth. Secondly, we are to make disciples who are faithful. The greatest measurement of one’s spiritual growth is their continual and methodical faithfulness to basic spiritual disciplines such as: daily Bible study & prayer, church attendance, serving in the church, engaging in the spiritual life of their family, and being a witness for Christ wherever they go. The church cannot be a missional church that brings glory to God without faithful members that are growing in their faith. We should also make disciples who are holy. Holiness and the doctrine of separation is something we rarely hear in pulpits across America. However, the Bible is very clear. We are to be in the world but not of it. We are to be separate from the world. 1 John 2:15-17 tells us that we are not to love the world nor the things that are in the world. We are to be separate from the world system. As believers in Christ, we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We do not belong in this world. I am afraid that many Christians often forget to whom they belong. We don’t belong to the world; we belong to Jesus. We are to be separate from particular worldly things. We are not just to be separated from the world’s system as citizens of God’s Kingdom, however, we are also to be separate from worldly behavior. There are way too many people sitting in church pews across America that talk like the world, act like the world, and look like the world. We have people sitting in our pews that are addicted to pornography. We have couples sitting in church pews that are living together without being married. We have people sitting in church pews committing adultery. We have people sitting in church pews that engage in gossip and inserting themselves in places they do not belong. We have people sitting in church pews that are full of selfishness and pride, that think they are better than everyone else. We have people sitting in church pews that are sacrificing their families on the altar of ministry. They spend more time doing different things that are good, yet, at the expense of time with their husband or wife or children. We have people sitting in church pews that regularly consume alcohol and other substances that could potentially ruin their life and the lives of others. We have people sitting in church pews that are chronic liars and they twist the truth and deceive others in order to gain control or have their way. We have people sitting in pews that do the very thing the Bible says is an abomination to God: sowing discord among the brethren. Yet, we wonder why God does not send a revival. Church, part of our missional strategy is to make disciples who are holy. We need to be bold. We need to be willing to take the Bible and teach others the truth. We need to help one another to know what is right and what is wrong. We need to encourage one another to live a life of holiness. Making disciples is certainly the first and foremost level of our missional strategy.
Develop a missional culture. As we endeavor to make disciples who make disciples, it is needful that we also develop a missional culture in the church. A missional culture is twofold. First, we are to be Kingdom Minded. Philippians 3:20 says, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word ‘conversation’ in the KJV is seen as ‘citizenship’ in other versions such as the ESV. If you are believer in Christ, you are not a citizen of this world. You are a citizen of Heaven. Unfortunately, most of us live as if we are citizens of this world. We invest in our own comfort and our own wealth as if this life is all there is to it. Are we earthly minded or heavenly minded? Are we living for the here and now or are we living for the Kingdom? Being Kingdom Minded affects the way we plan our day, the way we spend our money, the way we relate to others; being Kingdom Minded changes everything. Living a Kingdom Minded life results in having a Kingdom Minded church. A church that is Kingdom Minded is a church with open hands. We accept those God brings to us, and we disciple them and train them, but we do not hold on to them. We let them go. We send them out on mission. We accept the resources that God provides. Yet, our hands should be open. We do not hold on to the money. It’s not ours to hold on to. It belongs to God. Every penny that the church has ought to have a purpose. The church is not a savings bank. The church is a mission agency that receives and then funnels what it receives to the various ministries of the church to fulfil our overall purpose of reaching the world for Jesus. Secondly, we are to be Gospel Centered. Everything we do and everything we are, should be centered on the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to preach the Gospel to the lost and we are to disciple the saved to live out the Gospel in their daily lives.
Declare the call to missions. There have been numerous studies that have pointed to a critical shortage of pastors and fulltime Christian workers. It is believed that over 70% of all pastors are over the age of 50 and 40% are over the age of 60. Very few young people see Christian ministry as a real viable occupation. Serving in fulltime ministry is not a lesser position or a job to be ashamed of. Instead, it should be just the opposite. Serving in fulltime ministry should be looked at as a very prestigious and respected occupation. There is no higher calling than to serve in Christian ministry as a pastor, church staff member, or as a missionary on a foreign field. Our missional strategy should include the recruitment of fulltime ministry workers. The call should be talked about, encouraged, and cultivated in our children and youth ministries. The call should be given in our Sunday School classes. The call should be heard from the pulpit. The call should be talked about and discussed in the home between parents and children. Parents think about this: when you talk to your children about what they want to do when they grow up or when you discuss with your teenager their options for the future, do you ever mention being a missionary or a pastor, or a youth pastor, or some other form of ministry as a legitimate career choice? Declaring the call to missions should be a regular and consistent practice in the church and in the home.
How do we know if we are a missional church? We know when we are making disciples who are growing, faithful, and holy. We know when we have a missional culture that is Kingdom minded and Gospel centered. We know when the call is being made and people are answering the call to fulltime Christian service. May the Lord work in us and through us to be a missional church.