[This post is a part of the WikiConference 2014 series of posts]
The reality is we live in a mission field. The challenge is that while we live in the mission field, we also live in an unengaged mission force. In this session, Ed Stetzer explored what we should be thinking about when it comes to engaging God’s people in mission.
We began in 1 Peter 4:10-11 (HCSB) which read:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Mission is what God is doing in the world to advance his agenda. We a joining Jesus on his mission. It’s not our mission, it’s his. Jesus called us to join him. If mission is defined as what God is doing in the world, missionaries are a subset of that. Missional churches, which is a buzz-word, are churches that desire for their churches to join God in his mission in the world.
Ed referenced a study of 7,000 protestant churches that suggested that the majority of people in the majority of churches are unengaged in meaningful ministry and mission. A lot of people show up for the show but have no desire to serve. And this doesn’t vary with denominational tradition.
When we compare what we read in 1 Peter 4, the state of our churches in practice compared to the scripture is startling.
1. We all have gifts. (vs. 10a)
Our churches too often become distributors of religious goods and services and not outposts for missions. Out motive in churches is not to simply keep people happy, but to share the message of the Gospel with people.
Ed also went on a little rant by poking fun at Crosspoint’s architecture. He suggested, “When you build churches like theaters, don’t be surprised that people act like show-goers.” He also suggested that people, “pray, pay, and stay out of the way” so that the professionals can do their work.
It isn’t a select few that have gifts, we all have the gifts.
2. God intends all to use. (vs. 10b)
What does it mean to be a steward or manager of the grace of God?
God has gifted the parts of the Church and put them together. While not everyone is considered a good manager, everyone is a manager. When people don’t see themselves as stewards, we have churches full of religious people demanding customer service.
Don’t build churches of customers but of co-laborers.
“When pastors do for people what God has called the people to do, everybody gets hurt and the mission of God is hindered.”
3. For which he empowers us. (vs. 11a)
All of God’s people are sent on mission; all of God’s people are called to ministry. The only question is “Where?”
Our churches are filled with people who are already managers of the gifts that God has given them. Sometimes we minister in the church, sometimes through the church, and other times beyond the church.
4. To bring God glory. (vs. 11b)
We glorify God through service. Our churches need to be multiplying the number of people serving. Ed referenced that in their studies, the comeback churches (meaning those formerly dying) are those whose people get “on mission.” When this shift happens, the churches are transformed.
Do you want to have a united church?
Have them serving. The people rowing the boat will care a lot more about avoiding rocking the boat when they are rowing. Mature churches are not simply studying churches, they are both studying and serving.