How does a small church become missional? This is a question many small church pastors might ask. This is also a question that many witnesses for Christ might ask also. While at New Life Wesleyan Church, we were missional in the late 90’s, and they still are. This is where we focused on a ministry called the ROCK, Reclaiming Our Community’s Kids. Our goal was to be Jesus, otherwise known as be Incarnational, to children.
What each church should know is that each church is different. We are different because God sets every mission up. In other words, he creates the opportunities while preparing the church that already exists and while sending new lay people in to take part in the mission. God goes before because He prepares the way, and God’s people must respond to His lead. Duh! We have heard that before. Yet, what does it look like when God is leading you to a specific mission?
God uses frustration over injustices. He breaks hearts. Here is what frustrated our church and broke our hearts which brought us to action and this is what our mission looked like.
Our community’s kids were not recieving proper love from the adults in their lives. These kids were struggling with school, social skills, and having adequate clothing and a home. Our kids did not have any adult in their life to create the sense of being valued. They were not being heard. Some were staying in multiple houses and where they stayed depended on where the party was the night before. Some kids’ parents were working multiple jobs which meant they were too worn out to do things with them, or even cook supper at night. In other words, our kids were too worried about what they needed to live in this life to learn another Vacation Bible School story about Jesus in the next.
Notice that I said, “Our kids.” You have to look at God’s children that way. You have to own or take responsibility for the mission. Plus, our goal was to let them know that Jesus wants to be part of their lives in this life. Lordship now is what they needed too, on top of the sinner’s prayer to escape hell when they die. Jesus wants to be known now as the God who is with us.
To other churches, mission may start to take root from frustration that some in the church might feel about any type of injustice that they see in the community. This becomes the seed of something great. Think about it. If Christ’s people are frustrated about any type of injustice, then there is a huge chance that the Spirit of God is spurring that frustration so that we will get burdened enough to move.
Next, someone needs to talk about a practical Jesus way of dealing with the injustice. Practical means finding a way to be the hands and feet of Christ while sharing the Gospel. One without the other won’t do. They must be happen jointly. This ministry must not be one that is duplicated from what someone else is doing. A better way to say that is the ministry or mission should not be developed because someone else, who seems successful from doing that type of ministry, is doing it. It is a ministry that should meet two requirements. One is that the ministry fits the community, or situation, like a glove. Two is that the ministry will have to be accomplished by faith. This is important for God to demonstrate His awesome power to individuals. Why? He wants to show those who are lost that Jesus Christ is the answer. But . . . He also wants to demonstrate His power to the individuals in the church too! This is faith education 101.
You will know that you are on the right track when the needs to run this ministry are being met continuously, by those outside of the church, those who did not know that there was a need, and from people inside the church who are willing to do without luxuries, like never before, and give their money or time. This is when you are able to see God working. This is when the church is supposed to join Him. Joining God in His work is the only way to success. God is missional and this is why His Church is led to be missional.
Finally, for small churches, the mission might consume the entire focus of the church. It may be all that the church will do. Being missional is not necessarily a way to achieve growth. Instead, it is how we introduce others to Christ. When we expect to grow numerically from this mission or ministry, this is when we begin to get discouraged. Pastors and lay people listen to me, “It is not about receiving, it is about sacrificing.” Being missional will have a heavy work load for pastors and the men and women who attend church with a light pay off. In other words, the pay off may be something different than what one might expect. There will be a huge pay off in Heaven because people will receive Christ as their Savior, but it may not have anything to do with building a mega-church here on earth.