As I’ve written on this blog many times before, the congregation for whom I preach is on an exciting journey of discipleship, and our vision is to see Jesus’ Great Commission fulfilled in our community through us.
But that kind of mission cannot be successful unless each and every member owns the vision and actively seeks to live and grow as disciples of Jesus Christ who are making disciples for Jesus Christ.
And when it comes to owning it, our spiritual shepherds – Elders – are leading the way.
For example, the key piece of our church’s revitalization is Discovery Bible Study, which is a multiplying disciple-making ministry that is centered around the reading of Scripture with a small group of people. Each of our elders and ministers has invited a group of members to do this with them, and tonight we are meeting with all of those people to pray, encourage, and cast vision.
Instead of looking for a quick fix or a faddish approach, we are choosing to grow our congregation through the time-tested method of planting and watering the seed of the gospel and trusting God to give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).
And our Elders are showing us how.
In a recent article for Christianity Today, Jeff Christopherson wrote the following:
So, church leaders must start by owning their commission as missionary disciples’ intent on seeing that Jesus is known and worshipped by more and more people. We cannot settle for building ecclesiastical fortresses designed to cater to the needs of the evangelically predisposed. We personally must leave the safety and comforts of the sheep pen and venture out into the perilous and precarious world of lost sheep where we can demonstrate and declare the wondrous blessing, beauty, and protection found within the rule and reign of their rightful King.
Often leaders who desire a spiritual movement are quick to preach and teach these principles to others but fail to embody their commission themselves. But the only place where multiplying movements can emerge is in the place of personal ownership of leadership. We simply can’t settle for commending to others what we are not personifying ourselves. In this area, disciples corroborate the truth of the adage that actions speak louder than words, as they personally imitate the examples of their mission-less mentors while further cementing their mission-less ecclesiology. When it comes to multiplication, a powerful sermon from a theoretical practitioner will be swiftly undermined whereas an authentic personification of passionate mission will compel disciples to personally emulate the gospel priorities of their leaders.
Leaders who own their commission can then invite those they lead to join with them in Jesus’ great mission in the world. It’s this call that must be explicit when we speak of gospel centrality. It’s not only that we are saved by virtue of Jesus’ finished work, but we are also sent by virtue of His ongoing commission. One simply cannot be divorced from the other in our Christian living or leadership. We must call people to active kingdom multiplication, even if that commission does little to enhance the size or influence of the churches we lead.
Open-handed leaders recognize that commissioning people to multiplication is inherently costly but, because of their genuine allegiance to the gospel of Christ, they are gladly willing to invest their best into the mission of God around the world. And in this this open-handed transfer, they become, in themselves, emblematic of their sacrificial King. It is an odious example to those fascinated with the darkness of a self-serving form of religion, and it is a persuasive appeal to those with gospel hunger.
Movements always emerge through emanations from a core. They initiate with authentic leaders who, through conviction, openly practice what they proclaim as the very substantiation of their gospel message. With this authentication, kingdom disciples follow their kingdom example by reproducing what they have seen, heard, and personally experienced in their leadership.
This reproduction emerging from the simplicity of owning our commission becomes the very seed for a multiplying gospel movement.
What a joy it is to be led by a group of leaders who own their commission!
It inspires me to do the same.
What about you?