Commission

Luke 4:18-19

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lords favour.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Soirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

This is very clear in the New Testament. This is our mission. Jesus came with this mission and fulfilled it, along with the wonderful work of reconcilliation He finished on the Cross. We exist yo worship God and to proclaim Him to the Earth with  a purpose.

Most churches have mission statements, and can be long and detailed with many words. Do they contain within them, no matter how ling or short, the mission they exist for? Does the church operate within the mission given by Christ?

The Church is a growing, living thing and changes all the time. Each church changes by generation to generation, Pastor to Pastor, Elder to Elder. As a church grows, it might need to look again at its mission statement, it might need changing or rewriting. Above all, I feel a church needs a mission statement, and it needs to be known by every member and followed from Leadership down. It has to be taken on by all as a personal mission within the community and local areas, and within its own walls. If we start with the words of Jesus and try to follow His ways, we wont be far short of the right paths at any time, but only if we stay as close to Him as we can.

Advertisements

Quality not quantity?

A very sad and unfortunately normal fact for the Church in the Western world is that it is not growing, and so many churches are closing, being demolished, or being turned into nightclubs or trendy apartments in cities. This is something we should be very concerned about, and we should be being proactive in dealing with head on. How many church mission statements cover this rising trend by saying they are looking for “quality and not quantity” in their congregations.

Acts 2 shows us the wonderful Day of Pentecost, and the growth of the early church was not just in the amazing numbers, but geographically also. The Gospel didn’t just stay in Jerusalem, it went throughout the world within a few years. By the end of Acts, the Gospel had hit most of the Middle East, and even Europe and possibly England itself. What would have happened if the first church had the same attitude as we seem to have in the 21st century? It is possible it would have been a short phase and just fizzled out before the disciples had died.

A healthy church is a growing church, not just in growth of numbers, but spiritually as well. It sees its congregation growing in their walk, in their life and as they change and grow, they spread the wonderful good news of the Gospel to all they meet and live with. They live and relate in different ways to those around them, to the point that people know there is a difference to them, a feel that only knowing God can bring.

A church that only looks inwardly, that only wants to stay as it is, is destined for self – destruction. It cannot sustain itself. It becomes burnt out or it could only take one major incident that could split the congregation to the point of closure. A church cannot survive without growth, or any imbalance in how it is lead or taught.

Teaching and preaching is what we in churches do. That is part of our roles, all of us. Older, mature brothers and sisters mentor the younger spiritual members. Leaders bring teaching and leadership that gives the congregation the strength and confidence in God to go out and live the Gospel and new life they have. We all have a role of some sort of evangelism. I believe there are those with specific evangelism gifts by the Spirit, but we all have a role of evangelist when asked about our beliefs. We have the job to pray and bring those around us before the Lord, to bring the Gospel to them. How are they going to know about the new life God gives if we dont show it, live it and tell them the why and how? Don’t leave confusion of preaching christianity and then not living it. It brings words like hypocrisy into minds where there should be a wanting to know more. It is a sacrifice, it is laying down our lives to God. Its how we live for God. Its a change that happens inside when we truly understand what He has done for us and what He has saved us from.

First Church, Church First?

I love reading Acts, and learning about the first Church and how they lived and interacted with each other and those who came against them. Most of the early years had believers who had followed Jesus during his time on earth, or who knew him throughout his life and even those who had never met him but knew of him. It was an exciting time for the Apostles as they watched their new baby Church growing each day with converts whose life was transformed by the name of their beloved Christ. They were strong and dynamic leaders who did not shy away from discipline and teaching. There was structure and community and they each devoted themselves to knowing God more and more and encouraged their congregations to do the same. It would be unusual for a believer not to want to know more, not to want to grow and mature.

Acts 2 vs 42 – 47

Fast forward 2000 years to the Church of God today. I know many who would love their churches to be more like the church of Acts, myself being one of them. I know its not possible, and not because I dont think we can do it. We are a different generation and its a completely different world now. The first church was the benefit system for a start. It was a hard life for those who were orphaned and those who were widows. There is a safety net today that was not there then. It does not mean we don’t have an obligation to still look after these precious people anyway, but we don’t seem to think we have to. I know many older people who are using Food Banks while they are members of a church. Why? Because we dont think they are our responsibility anymore. They are. We are still a community whether we lived 2000 years ago or in the 21st century.

The church described in Acts was a healthy growing community. It was devoted to God and each other, devoted to prayer and fellowship. Church is like an organic mass of people. It needs things to grow, it needs structure and support. It got that from prayer, Gods living water and teaching. Strong leadership but not to the point it was suffocated and its voice was drowned out. We need exactly the same things to grow today. We are no different in these ways than then, even if our world is a very different place to live. We might not be able to be the church of Acts in many ways, like living as a community, but we can still care and love each other as Christ loves us. How unlike those in the world around us would we be if that is the attitude we took. If we stop being so concerned about how we look if we pray for our friends and family, the shopkeeper who is having a bad day, the officer handing out parking tickets, the guy who serves our coffee in the cafe. We would start to see change and would be known as a Christian without having to say anything because we would be so different and it would make an impact.