Imagine a church that loves God enough to make the Mission of God their highest priority.
Imagine being a part of a church where you regularly hear a passion for God’s Mission. Here are characteristics of a church that loves God’s Mission:
1. A church that loves God teaches the Mission of God, that every Christ follower is called to participate in His unswerving commitment to transform every nation through every vocation. The Leaders understand that the Great Commission includes simultaneously reaching people who have never heard the gospel while also shining the light of God’s truth in every sphere of influence in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).
2. A church that loves God possesses a commitment to the missionary task, that every unreached people group will have an indigenous multiplying church movement and the Bible in their own language. The leaders know that God is calling a portion of the members of their congregation to become missionaries as a full time vocation. So the leaders also go, and they send others to the nations on short-term trips, and as long term missionaries. And the church knows God is calling them to send those missionaries to plant churches among the unreached, or to assist with that effort. Everyone knows God is working in the church to challenge every believer to give, pray, go, or help in some way. The members of the church know that God is calling them to not only go overseas, but also to cross cultures in their own city and nation where there are people who have crossed cultural barriers from distant countries, and unreached people groups. Some of those peoples will be found in university communities, in the marketplace, and in the neighborhoods. (Matt. 24:14)
3. A church that loves God loves all peoples, every ethnicity in every nation. The members of the church genuinely believe that all people must hear the gospel to become Christian. The leaders recognize they are to “call out the called,” that everyone needs to know God and to make Him known. They know the Bible’s teaching about lostness and salvation for everyone who calls on His Name, and that truth motivates them. They do this by showing hospitality, opening their hearts and their homes to genuinely love strangers from distant places. (Heb. 13:2)
4. A church that loves God plants churches among the unreached. The church’s budget shows missions to the unreached as a priority. They have adopted an unengaged unreached people UUPG group to pray for—and make sure to pray for them in worship services and small groups. Typically, members of the missions committee or a staff leader keeps this burden in front of the church. (Rom. 15:20)
5. A church that loves God measures church growth by the number of members sent out as missionaries to the unreached as well as short-term missions trips, and those who are actively making a difference as representatives of God’s Mission in their daily lives. They do not only measure growth by the numbers brought to services, or conversions, or in various disciple groups, but also by affirming and celebrating members of the church who are bringing Christ’s lordship to every sphere of influence in their community and the nations. (Acts 14:27)
6. A church that loves God recognizes they are to teach a “Christian understanding of work,” that work is the natural exercise and function of humankind – because we are made in the image of God. The Leaders give frequent and urgent calls to join God’s Mission to redeem every sphere of influence, of work and of vocation. Dorothy Day writes, “It is the business of religion to make us Christian people, and then our work will naturally be turned to Christian ends, because our work is the expression of ourselves.” The Leaders affirm every kind of work as worship. (Col. 3:23)
7. A church that loves God gives sacrificially toward short-term missions and to long-term missionaries. The church regularly sends people on short-term missions trips—sometimes including missions trips for families. Why? Because all are called to participate in God’s Mission to “fill the earth with His glory,” and among those who participate in short-term missions, there will be some who are called to long term missionary vocations. The church’s budget, therefore, is heavily committed to the support of missionaries, and they frequently give special offerings for missions. Sacrifice marks the people. (2 Cor. 9:7)
8. A church that loves God takes good care of their missionaries. They commission them and send them out, but those are only early steps in the care of cross-cultural workers. They pray for them, provide care packages for them, occasionally send short-term teams to support them, and they keep the church informed about them. They have a dedicated mission board, committed to keeping the vision of God’s Mission and the missionary task at the core of this fellowship. (2 Cor. 9:12)
9. A church that loves God provides missions training, and typically require it, for anyone participating on a short-term trip. They know how easy it is to make cultural blunders, though they know some of those lessons are learned through experience. They know the importance of presenting the gospel clearly. They regularly communicate with their missionaries, especially when sending a team, so that they do not create unnecessary hindrances for missionaries on the ground. (2 Tim. 2:2)
The truth is, God’s purpose for the church is all about His Mission. Does this sound like an ideal church? Perhaps. This is not a legalistic set of rules. Every church, like every believer, is on a journey toward a deeper love of God. The fact is, there are no perfect churches and no perfect believers. God chooses to use imperfect people, but when we love God it’s easier to prioritize His Mission.