Posted On September 5, 2016

The Mission of God and the Local Church

by | Sep 5, 2016 | Academic Work, Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

Just as every organization and church has a foundational set of beliefs about how the members ought to interact with each other, so also they have beliefs about how to interact with those outside themselves. A local church needs to have a shared understanding as to why the local church exists and what she is called to do. Church after church sits idle and aging because the mission of God is not front and center. However, if we are to build leaders according to God’s design, we must bring acute clarity to our convictions. A necessary theological conviction for the leader developing church is a people deeply devoted to the glory of God and dedicated to multiplication.

Devoted to the glory of God

A local church culture is shaped significantly by assumptions about its purpose. If we miss on the purpose of God’s people, we will miss entirely. Beginning with Genesis, God’s design for creation is to share in and manifest His glory, for He made humanity in His image and His likeness to be the crowning jewel of His creation. The local church, made up of redeemed mankind, headed by Christ, united by the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, now has the purpose of inaugurating the restoring of God’s matchless glory throughout all creation. If a church is to become all that she was made to be, she must hold in highest regard her calling to do all for the glory of God.

There are many ways a church culture can truly and rightly bring glory to God. The faith of the saints under pressure, suffering, and persecution brings attention to the worth and value of King Jesus. Our perseverance on this long road to glory honors Him. Our joyful obedience to Him magnifies His worth to a watching world. All of these things and more make God’s Church a glory-reflecting community that honors the Eternal God.

A firm conviction that the Church exists to bring God glory makes a local church immensely powerful for developing new leaders. The glory-hogging of leaders deeply hampers leadership development.

Leaders filled with pride fail to develop others as they fear others surpassing them, others receiving credit, or others “stealing the spotlight.” The glory of God slays the glory of man.

A church obsessed with the glory of God continually defeats the Enemy that threatens to stall the maturation of new leaders. As the local church embraces the glory of God, new leaders can rise up, new leaders can pass their mentors, and old leaders can step aside in dignity and delight.

What a wonderful reality. Our dedication to the glory of God and self-forgetfulness brings our churches into a deep, powerful devotion. This kind of devotion can help us remain dedicated to developing new leaders even if it means loss of power or glory for self. There is nothing so liberating, so freeing, as replacing your own leadership as an act of worship to God.

Dedicated to multiplication

In these last days, God has determined to use His Church as His primary agent in ushering in His Kingdom. This reality is made clear to God’s people throughout Scripture, but pointedly in the Great Commission. Jesus makes His mandate clear; we are to advance His Kingdom by making disciples. That’s it—we want to make much of Jesus through advancing His reign by declaring and demonstrating the gospel and instructing others to join us.

The mission of the local church is not up for debate. The mission of the Church is the mission of the One who is the Head of the Church. Namely, His particular mission is “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). A church joins in that mission or she is not the body of Christ.

How will the local church know when it has accomplished or is succeeding in its mission? This question must be answered by all organizations, and the local church is no exception. Strong cultures have clarity when it comes to mission.

Unity falls apart and mission falters when there is no clarity on success. This has been particularly true in American churches. The American local church regularly communicates particular measurements, such as budgets and buildings, that frame the perspective of new members concerning the mission. Christ, however, has clearly identified for the Church the end of the mission, the point of the mission, and the accomplishment of the mission:

“This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations. And then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14)

Do we believe that budgets and Saturday attendance are enough to measure progress in the mission of reaching all nations? We will (at best) get only what we aim for. If our local churches are ever to become the epicenter of leadership development, then they must fully embrace the mission and its massive scope. For the local church to fully accept responsibility for the mission of God to be completed, developing leaders will be a necessary ambition. For most churches, the problem of mission is not they have aimed too big, but that they have aimed too small.

Churches must measure leadership reproduction because if leaders are not being made, the church has been unfaithful. As the local church embraces the mission of making disciples, she will be unlocked for her fullest potential in multiplication.

The local church must see leadership development as an expression of obedience to the Great Commission. Leaders cannot simply make more followers of Christ; they must be intent on replacing themselves as leaders. The multiplication of disciples and churches is significantly tied to the multiplication of leaders. If a local church embraces the mission to make disciples of all nations, then there is not other palatable strategy but to make more leaders to press the mission forward.

“Excerpted from Designed to Lead by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. Copyright 2016 B&H Publishing Group.”

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