If ever there were a loaded question… How would you answer if someone were to ask you: “What’s a Church to do?”
Better yet (and even more telling), where would your answer ultimately come from? Is there room for freelancing on this one? Are the “best” churches those that are led by the most creative and pragmatic leaders? How is a church’s mission to be mandated and measured? Can you begin to see just how “loaded” my question really is? In the end, its actually a trick question… Churches and Christians aren’t about “doing,” they’re about “BE-ing.” That said, lets look at some of the “doing” that helps to build and grow the “being” of discipleship.
Before we begin, here’s another question… Have you noticed that church life is, in many facets, just like the rest of life? For example, when we don’t know what to do, we tend to do one of three things:
1. Nothing… and like paralyzed bodies, we atrophy.
2. Everything… and thus, we do barely anything well.
3. My thing… and myopic ministry gets “managed” by men.
Okay… so here’s the point. Jesus gave the Church her mandate and her mission. She/We are to bring glory to God by living out the Great Commandments (Mark 12:30-31) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8). To answer my own question from above: there is NO room for freelancing on this one!
So… if we know “what” we are to do and “BE,” the next logical question is: “How are we to accomplish the mission?” This, my friend, is where things tend to get complicated. Sadly, this is where the debates and divisions often take over. Having said that, let me offer you some sound biblical architecture that leaves plenty of room for creativity and uniqueness.
To the extent that neither biblical truth nor biblical love are compromised, any church (or Christian for that matter) that leads and lives their ministry-make-up through the six (6) missional purposes prescribed to the New Testament Church in the Book of Ephesians (Prayer, Service, Worship, Outreach, Relationships, Development), will be on the right track. The important thing to realize is that each of these six purposes is global in scope AND essential for spiritual health. A church/Christian can no more leave one of these purposes out (and consider themselves intact), than could a mother of six children leave one behind and still consider her family in good stead.
Let me give you a great framework for future discussions… With a question and topic as large as: “What’s the Church to do?” I have found that four (4) Scripture passages really help me put things into perspective. While these verses far from tell the whole story, I think they create a framework that helps me paint the portrait of faith that is to be lived out in the real world.
- Ephesians 4:14-16 = “truth in love”
- Matthew 28:18-20 = “make disciples… obey… with you”
- Acts 1:8 = “Spirit… power… local-to-global…”
- Ephesians 6:10ff = “put on the full armor”- going to war
The four (4) passages above cover so much of the Church’s mission and mandate (either directly or indirectly), that I’d recommend them as a personal faith-filter for every minister & ministry, every mission and missionary, every man and every woman of God. Again, my four-legged stool of Scripture is far from an exhaustive expose… but I think you’ll be surprised at how much these passages filters out of your life and how much they help you to focus on the mission-critical aspects of living out the Christian faith.