What kind of churches will change the world?
We need churches filled with missional/incarnational people. We need believers to get out of their buildings and into the communities in which God has placed them. We need people to live among and with our communities and stop expecting them to come into our world. We need to take the gospel to the streets not just in words but into the hearts and lives of our neighbors in tangible, practical ways.
As Hugh Halter and Matt Smay write in their book The Tangible Kingdom, the primary function of any church “is to actively move into the culture to embody and enflesh the good news into every nook and cranny of this world. The function of the church is to be God’s missionary hands to a world that is looking for something tangible to grab onto. [i]
A missional people understands that glorifying God with their lives means more than not doing any harm. It means serving the world in ways that reflect the model and message of the Savior. We were bought (our lives are not our own) by the precious blood of Christ.[ii] As such, there is to be a cross-shapedness to the quality of our service to the world. A servant is not greater than his master. Our lives should reflect the same type of willingness to sacrifice everything for the lost of this world that was present in the Savior. This is at least part of what it means to “fill up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ.”[iii]
What Paul meant by “filling up what was lacking” (sounds like heresy at first) is that he was willing to suffer just as Christ was willing to suffer to bring the gospel to the Jews he was willing suffer to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul knew that the Church’s mission in the world would always include suffering on behalf of the gospel. He knew that the body of Christ would always have a call to endure and suffer. This is why he wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12 “that all those who desire to live godly in Christ will be persecuted.”
When the world sees that we will suffer for them, not for our own greater security, but for them. When they feel it, viscerally, that we care more about them more about their pain and heartaches even than our own comfort, then, THEN our proclamations of the gospel will begin to sound like the love of God to them.
Missional people follow the model of Christ. They don’t wait for people to come to them. They go to them and begin to serve—sacrificially. Missional leaders are not out in front of people. They are among and beside the people. They lead as fellow travelers not as appointed gurus.
That’s the need. How are you getting it done in your life, in your family, in your church?