Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The New Testament confirms for us that the Church is to always be moving forward with the Gospel, never allowing the complacency of a maintenance perspective to hinder it. Belief in the power of the Gospel is demonstrated through the forward movement of those who hold to such belief.
Not only was the Gospel moving forward in ways that early believers could scarcely imagine, newly formed local congregations were birthed with a mission-focused DNA. Early on the church in Antioch began sending key leaders out to plant churches into other regions. The new church in Ephesus eventually reproduced itself in the cities of Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Paul commends even the church in Thessalonica for reproducing itself into surrounding areas.
It’s clear that early on the New Testament Church recognized that its purpose for existence was found in the mission given it by Jesus Christ. Going into all the world and making disciples of all nations had become a mode of operation for the early Church.
Monday, October 12, 2009
The essence of being a mission-focused reproducing church is that of being a witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel witnesses in Acts were often persecuted to such an extent that the Greek word martyr is used as the word for witness. This is more than semantics as it paints a clear picture of the commitment involved in being a witness of the Gospel.
Tim Keller says, “If you are persecuted all the time and never attract people to Christ its because you are obnoxious. If you are never persecuted for your faith it’s because you are a coward. “
A mission-focused reproducing church is not built apart from whole-hearted commitment to the Gospel. In that commitment there is a complete dependence upon the power of the Gospel to change people’s lives for the glory of God. Faith in methods, or a particular strategy are not adequate in and of themselves to accomplish this.
As a whole our witness as a church can be expressed in a variety of ways. One such means is attractional in nature. The attractional approach is usually associated with a great event backed with multimedia communication, high quality production, worship, the manifest presence of God, with an emphasis on cultural relevance. This approach seeks to attract people to such gatherings, affording them the opportunity to process their faith along the way.
Another means of witness expression for the Church is incarnational in its approach. The incarnational expression seeks to be Jesus in the community in which it exists. Meetings and programs are downplayed, while community connection is magnified.
While both expressions have their place, the book of Acts suggests that the early church, which was firmly missional in nature was both attractional and incarnational. Next week we’ll take a look at the dynamics of the early church to see how their witness to the Gospel was formed.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The Christian Church was designed from the first to be aggressive. It was not intended to remain stationary at any period, but to advance onward until its boundaries became commensurate with those of the world. It was to spread from Jerusalem to all Judea, from Judea to Samaria, and from Samaria unto the uttermost parts of the earth. It is not intended to radiate from one central point only; but to form numerous centers from which its influence might spread to the surrounding parts. In this way it was extended in its first and purest times. The plan upon which the apostles proceeded, and the great apostle in particular in his mission to the Gentiles, was to plant churches in all the great cities and centers of influence in the known world. (Sword & Trowel, vol 1, April 1865, p 63) C.H. Spurgeon.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus told his followers that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. Samaria was geographically near but culturally far away while the uttermost parts of the earth were geographically and culturally far away. Both places are “off the map” in terms of geography. This is why Newfrontiers is committed to an “off the map” approach to our mission. We value the edge more than the center, and the lost more than the found. While at the same time being proactive rather than reactive, moving from addition to multiplication.
In the next few weeks I will be outlining the biblical basis for this approach as it is recorded for us in the book of Acts. As we examine the expansion of the Gospel through the book of Acts we will learn what it means to be truly mission-focused. I hope you will join me on this journey.