The words mission and missional are used a lot in our modern church world. But do wereally understand what they mean? Are we truly living with a sense of mission in
our lives and ministries? The early church certainly would not have used exactly the
same words to describe what it meant to have a sense of and commitment to
mission, but in Acts 2, Luke records that they live with a divine passion and
purpose—divine structure and strategy that reached real people with real needs in
a truly effective manner. Perfect ?—no. Powerful and productive?—without a doubt
(Acts 2:40-47). Acts 2:40-47 is a well-known, well-used and well-worn passage. And for good
reason: it contains so many principles and practices that reach people in dynamic
and even dramatic ways. This is a church in its infancy learning how to influence
and impact a diverse international community that had come together on the Day of Pentecost. They were on mission with Jesus to reach people with a message of redemption, reconciliation and restoration. And all the while they were learning a theology of place—the secret place, the gathering place and the public place—connecting to and communicating with those who were crying out, whether they knew it or not, “Bring Jesus to me.” Let me suggest to us a three-way missional reach that can help us focus on how to be the redemptive force that Jesus has called us to be, as we reach those within our reach—reaching more people with the gospel by making more disciples for the gospel.
Reach Up To God—through the ministries of prayer and praise. Prayer is basically seeking to discern the will of God by the word and the spirit and to come into agreement with it with words of faith. Praise is lifting up and exalting God the Father and Jesus the Son for who they are and what they have done—it is both declarative and descriptive. Worship, which has to do with both prayer and praise, functioning as a kingdom of priests of prayer and praise—bringing people to God and God to people. This is our first missional reach.
Reach In To One Another—through the ministries of making disciples, developing leaders and multiplying covenantal communities. It takes a healthy and vital community of faith to engage and effectively reach the people in the culture they live in. As the church, crisis is not our brand—cultivation is our brand. Our primary focus is not the sickbed—it is the seedbed. Of course we respond to every crisis and run to every sickbed to comfort, aid and pray. But it is the long-term commitment to cultivating godly character where we find our greatest successes. Making disciples, developing leaders and multiplying covenantal communities takes intentionally organic processes where people are touched, taught, trained and tended to daily and ongoingly. This is our second missional reach.
Reach Out To The World—through the ministries of evangelism, compassion and
justice. A people gathered then become a people distributed and dispersed, speaking the good words of the gospel and adorning them with good works that either follow or precede the sharing of God’s good news in Christ Jesus. We are called to the widow, the orphan, the poor and the immigrant stranger—this quartet of the vulnerable is deeply imbedded in God’s heart and should be in ours as well. We are called to rich and poor, young and old alike. We are called to freely and fully give to others what has been given to us in declaration and demonstration—proclamation and power. This is our call—this is our commission. This is our third missional reach.
Remember: A truly missional local church will be reaching up to God, reaching in to
one another and reaching out to the world with influence and integrity.