In reality, our definition of Mission is the convergence of our definitions of Gospel and Church. A church-centric mission will use the gospel to increase attendance and justify adding resources. A gospel-centric mission will use church as a catalyst for discipleship. At the end of the day, we measure what is most important to us. Look at what we keep records of and you will discover what truly drives our mission. Most churches publish attendance and offering amounts. Counting heads and dollars is drastically different from counting changed lives and transformed families.


The greatest departure from a Biblical understanding of Church lies in it’s place in the ongoing redemptive mission of God. Too often, we place Church at the center, implying (or assuming) that it is the ends of our efforts. Planting and building churches becomes our goal. Add to this the prevailing form of church expressed through buildings and programs and you develop a meaning of church that is number-centric. Attendance becomes the primary success criteria. Faithful patronage is the measure of commitment. And the best use of our resources becomes our giving to pay for staff and buildings.

The great commission to make disciples produces church, not as the ends, but as the continuing means for mission. In Ephesians, Paul is crystal clear that the church lies at the heart of God’s redemptive work, not as the goal, but as the catalyst for redemption. The goal is Christlikeness and maturity (discipleship). The purpose of the church is to facilitate that process. Church, then, becomes the fluid agency that equips and sends. It is the catalyst for the expansion of the Gospel. The church serves the spread of the Gospel, not the other way around.


Many churches have reduced the meaning of gospel down to 4 propositional truths that people affirm mentally in order to trigger post-death admission into heaven. These propositions often are centered on the bad news that we are all terrible sinners deserving of hell. The motivation for acceptance of these truths is guilt, fear, or shame, and the preferred response is usually agreement – typically in the form of a “sinner’s prayer.”

Contrast this understanding with the Gospel Paul and Peter present in the book of Acts. The message was holistic, not propositional. The intended response was repentance, not mental assent. The motivation was the hope for new life now and in the life to come. Furthermore, the Gospel message included the implications for belief – a new purpose for life and a clear missional identity.

How many “Christians” produced through the mental assent of 4 “spiritual laws” have continued to struggle with sin, living a life devoid of the peace, love, and joy that characterized those who embraced the gospel in the first days after Pentecost? When we reduce Gospel to a formula, we produce “agree-ers”, not disciples.


With all due respect to the prevailing forms of church that characterize much of the “Christian” sub-culture in our country, words like “gospel”, “church”, “mission”, and “discipleship” don’t always mean the same things. And placing one of these labels on an activity or initiative doesn’t mean we are being faithful to the great commission as Jesus intended. Every church claims to believe the gospel, make disciples, and pursue mission. The proof is in the results. Ultimately, what we produce through our efforts will reveal what our true meaning and understanding of these terms actually is.

This series will take an Apples / Oranges look at the big things…


A Multiplying Network of Gospel Communities on Mission.

This is where we’re headed.

As we…

Focus on Multiplying Gospel Mission…

…through the process of Gospel Re-Orientation…

…in the context of Gospel Communities…

…we will see a Multiplying Network of Gospel Communities on Mission where people are awakening to life in the way of Jesus, becoming disciples, multiplying the gospel through missional communities, and extending the gospel outward to the world.


Exponential Gospel Mission.

Jesus left his followers with a mission: to make disciples – everywhere. He defined discipleship as imitating his way of life. He defined the mission as creating more disciples. He gave them power through the Spirit and a clear call to spread virally from the current place they found themselves in (Jerusalem) to the ends of the earth.

Why?

Because he is Lord and we are designed to live in the light of his Lordship. People are designed to live for more than themselves. Discipleship is about becoming the human being God intended you to be – expressed perfectly in the life of Jesus and reproduced in the life of all who allow his Gospel to re-shape their lives.

Mature, healthy disciples make more disciples. Mature, healthy churches make more churches. Gospel-centered communities multiply. They have to. Outward, exponential mission requires it.


Gospel Communities.

The core environment for both Gospel re-orientation and mission is organic and relational. It is rooted in a relational framework that crosses and unites family lines.

A Gospel Community is a collection of 10-25 couples, families, and individuals united around the gospel and mission. They include those who believe the Gospel and those who are awakening to it. They share a common pursuit – the re-orientation of their lives around the gospel.

They share life together. Meals. Birthdays. Vacations. They are friends. Allies. They have each others’ backs. They are each others practical extended family, at the top of the call list when life gets really hard.

In his letters to churches, Paul establishes the centrality of the household in the ongoing mission of the Gospel. He assumes a familial framework within which discipleship, discipline, mission, care, service, worship, and evangelism take place.

In this context, roles and leadership qualifications are based on family dynamics and connections. Mature family members help develop immature family members. Those with wisdom pass it on to the next generation. Experience and expertise are celebrated and leveraged. The responsibility for the discipleship of everyone is a shared family endeavor.