Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Article # 1: Rural Church Growth

A Church is Mission Driven: Understanding the Purpose of Your Church

Matthew 28:18-20,
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This series of articles is committed to solving the problems facing rural churches and Kingdom growth. The first problem facing rural church is a loss of Kingdom focus. Most rural churches have existed in their communities for several decades. There is a large gap between those who planted the church and their passion to win their community to Christ and those in the church who just want to keep the doors open another week.

The mission of any church is the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ and it is to be lived out according to the example given by the early church in Acts 2:42-47. Each believer has been given the charge by Christ to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them obedience to God’s Word. This is God’s will for your life and for your church.

The problem is most rural churches no longer have the passion or the vision to fulfill this command of Christ. For most rural churches their passion isn’t for making disciples of Christ, but disciples of their church. Most of the gages of spiritual maturity in rural churches are based on what will keep the church structure going. An example of this is how rural churches measure a person’s maturity by their church attendance. The problem of this is church attendance isn’t part of the great commission.

My point is the mission of the church isn’t survival, but revival. The mission of the church isn’t to maintain people, but to make disciples. The mission isn’t to please the people who control the money, but to please Christ who controls the Kingdom. The mission isn’t to make people that are bound for heaven comfortable and lazy, but to make people bound for hell into disciples that are passionate for living for Christ. The same reason God the Father sent Christ, He sends us. It is all about bringing the lost into Christ-likeness. Church survival is important, but understand this truth, “As we seek to build God’s Kingdom through making disciples, God will grow our individual churches. The reason churches are dying is we are church focused, not Kingdom focus, and therefore the goal becomes keeping Christians comfortable.”

The ways in which rural churches have tried to reach those without Christ have been disastrous. The reason is because most rural churches are stuck in programing ruts. Instead of working smarter, they only work harder, doing the things that have no impact on the lives of people without Christ. Rural church need to examine everything they do and see if it helps in making disciples. Rural churches must examine everything because Sunday School, the way you worship, and the way your church plans events may not help your church in making disciples. Remember the mission isn’t about having Sunday School and three worship services a week. The mission is about making disciples.

Will rural churches work smarter to carry out their mission to make disciples? Will they start going after those without Christ instead of expecting those without Christ to come to them? Only one agenda can have priority. Make the commission of Christ the mission of your church and your life.


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