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THE LOST PRIORITY OF LOCAL MISSION PART 2 – Steps Forward

17 January, 2024


At the start of a new year, I don’t think there could be many more important things than reprioritising local mission, both personally and in our churches.

In the first part of this blog here I wrote mainly about some attitudinal shifts that need to happen for us to reprioritise local mission in our lives and churches. In this part I want to focus on some of the practical ways we can see that realised. I should underline that this is a journey but the point is to start!

 

1 Share in your church a Kingdom vision of making disciples that is larger than the local church. What I am saying is that church or organisational survival will never be a sufficient reason for a Christian to engage in the Great Commission. Instead, Mat 28:18-20 underlines that making disciples is the central task of those who are Christ-followers:

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Mat 28:18-20 MSG

Mike Breen flips this around:

“Every disciple disciples. You can’t be a disciple if you aren’t willing to invest in and disciple others.”― Mike Breen, Building a Discipling Culture

It can be problematic for those who have made church the central focus of their faith and life to admit that being and making disciples is the first priority and the means for growing the church; Breen puts it succinctly:

“Here’s the thing that can be difficult to wrap our minds around: If you make disciples, you always get the church. But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples.”― Mike Breen, Building a Discipling Culture

Pastoral leaders and elders/leaders need to model making disciples and developing leaders as their first priority if attenders are to grasp and emulate this.

We desperately need a bigger vision for our lives and churches that is centred around making disciples!

 

2 Care for the local community and its needs in every aspect; social, physical, emotional – that is genuinely expressed in tangible ways.

Pursue the well-being of the city…Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it thrives you will thrive. Jer 29:7 CSB

This of course necessitates being aware of those needs (a call to the Council, looking at ABS Quickstats &/or chatting with community leaders can be helpful). Connecting with churches and service providers in the area can help avoid duplication and missed opportunities.

 

3 Stay connected with those who have drifted out of church and seek their feedback. 50% of those who are de-churched are ready to come back to church given the right conditions (Carey Neiwhof with Jim Davis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Slk8njY1oM )

 

4 Train people in understanding and using a missional pathway personally and in the church’s mission.

(see graphic above)

Most church attenders lack a clear sense of:

1)  The steps needed to connect people in the local community with the church (and subsequently for them to grow)

2)  Being clear about the purpose of each step and how to progress to the next

 

There are some free resources here [pathways4mission.com]

Which steps are missing from your church?  Many churches I have consulted with do not run an ‘engaging the faith’ activity (e.g. Christianity Explained/Alpha) on a regular basis.

A significant area is ‘belonging groups’ where Christians can develop relationships with those who connecting with a community-focussed church activity such as a playgroup, men’s shed or ESL class. When appropriate, invitations can be extended to read the Bible together, participate in Christianity Explained, or similar activity.

 

5 Equip and Coach attenders in:

·       Living a lifestyle of relationally connecting with others (The Art of Neighbouring and Surprise the World are two good books)

·       Praying daily for specific people and for opportunities to share faith

·       Developing a two-minute testimony of their conversion

·       Learning a simple Gospel outline

·       Being able to answer the 7 most asked questions

It can be helpful to have a forum such as a small group where attenders can share stories invite prayer from others as they seek to live this out.

 

6 Strengthen guest welcome.

Some newcomers to the church will not have faith or have an unclear commitment to Christ. This can be gently covered as part of a good welcoming process. But even for those who do have faith this is a crucial area to help people belong and take their spiritual next steps.

 

I talk with people in the community who are spiritually hungry; who want to know more. And I want to encourage you that I have seen churches I have worked with shift to a greater level of effectiveness in their outreach. It is possible, with God’s help! So let’s make a start!

What is one thing that you can do, or that your church could do this year? 

Or one thing you have found helpful in local mission in your life and church? Please let us know!

 

© 2024 Ian Duncum. All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Rev Dr Ian Duncum is a trained and accredited (with John Mark Ministries) church consultant with over 20 years experience of working with non-profit enterprises and churches across a number of denominations. This has also included denominational leadership in church health and development and church research in the tertiary education sector. An accredited minister with a track record of growing churches, Ian also trains church consultants, facilitates training for ministers and leaders, and mentors/supervises pastors and other leaders. He can be contacted at www.ianduncum.com.au or duncum@internode.on.net



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