On A Mission From God

As a group of Christ-followers, our church family at Alameda is on a mission from God.

In John 17:18 Jesus, praying to God the Father, said of his disciples: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”  The Message translation puts it like this: “In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world.”

So…

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Jesus described this mission in very specific terms in Matthew 28:18-20: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'”

Going into the world.

Making disciples.

Baptizing.

Teaching obedience to Christ.

With the confidence of Christ’s constant presence.

This is the mission of the church belonging to Christ.

And Alameda is pursuing that mission with focus and intentionality.

But this was not always the case.

How Our Journey Began

We just finished the first year of a 5-year vision that is designed to transform our congregation into an army of disciple-makers that is faithfully pursuing the Great Commission that Jesus directed his church to fulfill.

And that vision was the result of our leaders humbly confessing that we did not possess a burden for the spiritually lost that motivates the people of God to be on mission for God.

In his book Irresistible Faith Scott Sauls writes, “God’s call on our lives, then, is first and foremost not a call to action but a call to brokenness and contrition, for a broken and contrite heart he will not despise (Psalm 51:17).”

As the elders and ministers serving Alameda looked at our community, our hearts broke for those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior and we were convicted by our complicity in this situation.  We were a “good” church by human evaluation, but we were not a “Great Commission” church that was actively advancing the Kingdom of God through the sharing of our faith in Christ.

And we knew that something had to change.

A Vision is Born

So, we set about the task of removing barriers to our ability to impact our community for Christ, resolved to think missionally for the cause of Christ, and identified definitive actions we could take that would put our church in a better position to effectively reach more people for Christ.

This effort was accompanied by a renewed commitment to put Christ’s vision for his church above everything else, which is captured in this purpose statement: “The Alameda Church of Christ exists for the purpose of making Jesus known by living as disciples of Jesus Christ, growing as disciples of Jesus Christ, and making disciples for Jesus Christ.”

Above all else, we want to make Jesus Christ known to others through the strategy of being the disciples Jesus has called us to be.

Our purpose and strategy is regularly communicated to our church family through 2 three-word phrases:

Make Jesus Known

Live – Grow – Make

Our desire is to see each and every Alameda member own this mission – which comes from Jesus – and faithfully make Jesus known to the people in their spheres of influence by actively living and growing as Jesus-followers so that they will have the opportunity to make disciples for Jesus.

What We’ve Done So Far

In the first year of our vision we…

Added a second worship service to create more space for more people

Renovated our auditorium

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Hired a second Youth Minister to work specifically with our girls and to give our Lead Youth Minister more opportunity to lead our worship ministry

Hired the volunteer leader of our Celebrate Recovery ministry on a part-time basis in order to further maximize the ministry opportunities God is giving us in the community through CR

Created a plan for regional and short-term mission trips and community service projects that will give our members hands-on opportunities to “show and tell” others about Jesus

Redesigned our Bible Classes as discipleship venues where people can discover Jesus, dive into the teachings of Jesus, deepen their knowledge of God’s Word, and be trained in how to disciple others

Aligned our existing ministries and programs to the mission of making Jesus known

Started D-School as a way to systematically and intentionally train our members for discipleship and evangelism

Provided our members with an easy-to-use tool for leading others into a deeper walk with Christ called Discovery Bible Study

Initiated D-Groups that enable small groups of people to read Scripture together and allow the Word of God to transform hearts and minds

The Fruit

By becoming more focused on the Great Commission and by pursuing discipleship with greater purpose, passion, and intentionality, God has already allowed us to experience fruit from our efforts.

We ended 2018 with a 7% increase in our average worship attendance, which gave us our largest yearly attendance average in six years.

We increased our reliance on the Holy Spirit (because we knew that we could not do this on our own).

We sharpened our focus on the Great Commission – Christ’s vision for his church.

We are systematically and intentionally training our members on how to be disciple-makers for Jesus.

We have equipped members with an easy-to-use resource for sharing Scripture with their friends and neighbors.

The Resistance

But not everything has gone smoothly and not everyone is fully onboard with our 5-year vision.

And this is to be expected.

Any kind of change – even change that is made with the purest of intentions, even change that brings a church into greater compliance with Christ’s will – challenges people’s assumptions and generates fear.

But what we should fear most is not reaching the people who are far from Christ.

Jesus said that he came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  This was Jesus’ greatest priority and it should be his church’s greatest priority too.

And I am confident that as Alameda grows in our ability to make Jesus known through our discipleship, seeking the lost will take greater precedence over our personal preferences and comfort.

Awhile back, someone asked me how I dealt with the criticism I have been receiving for trying to help others become the disciple-makers Jesus called them to be.  My response included these words: “I know that I am not doing anything wrong; I am not violating Scripture; I have no hidden agenda; I am not trying to make a name for myself; I am doing what I’m doing with the purest of heart; and my actions are borne out of a sincere devotion to Christ, a deep burden for the lost, and an authentic love for the people of my congregation because I love our church family too much to let us fall short of the goal that Jesus set before us.  While I don’t understand being criticized for doing what’s right, I know that “if I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

What’s Coming Next

The second phase of Alameda’s 5-year plan will bring…

The organization of our church family into “shepherding groups” that will increase the connection between our elders and members

“Shepherding Conversations” that will enable our spiritual shepherds to have spiritual conversations and prayers with every member unit of our congregation

A re-launch of our small groups ministry

Training for our adult Bible class teachers

The formulation of an outreach plan targeting people in the 25-35 age range and the start of outreach efforts to that demographic in our community

Along with other things that will be announced in due time

Prayer

At Alameda, we are seeing God revitalize our church and we are trusting that he will continue to do so in greater measure.  It is an exciting thing to be part of!

And I want to ask my Alameda family and my blog community to regularly pray the following prayer for us and with us:

Lord Jesus, you stretched out your arms of love upon the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace; so clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your name.  Amen.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

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