For more than two thousand years, the gospel of Jesus Christ has traveled the world over. It has spread from Jerusalem in the first century to remote villages in the twenty-first century. The main way that the gospel message has spread is by faithful followers of Jesus taking it to the ends of the earth. Jesus’ last words to his followers before his ascension was to make disciples of all nations. Known as the Great Commission, this same command still applies to Christ-followers today. Yet, for many churches in the twenty-first century, the mission is more about sustaining growth and keeping up membership rolls than it is about making disciples. In his new book published by B&H, The Spiritual DNA of a Church on Mission Bob Burton discusses how local churches can get back on mission for the sake of making disciples.
Using the analogy of DNA, Burton urges churches to replicate the blueprint laid out for the church in the book of Acts. Throughout the book, Burton explores ten principles that will help churches be on mission. These principles include: first and most importantly, being spiritually prepared through prayer and knowing that the church is under the authority of the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit. No church or individual can be on mission alone. It is through the work of the Spirit that the gospel message is spread and takes root. This is where many churches and individuals get it wrong by thinking they can do the work of the Lord by human strength and ingenuity.
In addition, churches should have an understanding of who they are trying to reach and how best to be on mission in their context. Raising up and sending out leaders is also an important part of being on mission. The Lord uses all people in the church, and he gifts individuals with abilities that will aid the church’s mission of making disciples. Identifying and training leaders is a crucial part of the church’s mission. Additionally, churches need to work together. It takes more than one church to reach a community with the gospel. Partnering together with other churches is crucial to being on mission both locally and globally.
Burton reminds the reader that being on mission does not come easy. There will be seasons of spiritual warfare. For this reason, churches need to rely on the first two principles as they work through seasons of spiritual warfare. Being a church on mission is kingdom work, but not all spiritual forces desire to advance the kingdom of God. Yet, the gates of hell cannot advance against the kingdom of God. If the church relies on the power of Spirit, it will accomplish its mission of making disciples of all nations. Burton does an excellent job of casting a vision for that mission.
The Spiritual DNA of a Church on Mission is a very practical resource. I would give it four out of five stars. Bob Burton, who serves as a sending church coach at the North American Mission Board, is an excellent guide through the ten principles seen in the book of Acts that aid the church on its mission. I would recommend this book to church leaders who are serious about the mission of making disciples. The Spiritual DNA of a Church will serve as an excellent resource to train others in the church to catch the vision of disciple-making.
Zach is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He blogs at zachkendrick.wordpress.com, and is a contributor for Servants of Grace. He has written book reviews for Cross-Focused Reviews, Crossway, New Growth Press, Tyndale House Publishers and Fortress Press. He resides in Birmingham with his wife, Courtney.