Written by: Justin Burkholder
Justin Burkholder serves as the director of TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission) for Mexico and Central America. He is part of the eldership team at Iglesia Reforma in Guatemala City and formed part of the Pastoral Council of The Gospel Coalition. He is a graduate from Moody Bible Institute and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Justin and his family serve as missionaries to Guatemala City, and Justin is the author of Sobre la Roca: A Model for Church Planting Churches in Latin America.
This following content was originally published on Acts 29’s website, linked here: https://www.acts29.com/pastor-dont-lose-the-churchs-mission/
Editor’s Note: This article comes from an Acts 29 pastor in Guatemala. Discover more at Acts 29 Latin America.
Many churches have lost their focus in mission. For some, the mission is measured by Sunday’s attendance. For others, it’s mainly about being involved in the world’s social problems. Others rate their success according to activism that helps material matters but ignores aspects the Bible demands.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that if we have more people or activities, we’re fulfilling our mission. That’s why we need, more than ever, mission-focused leaders who will guide the church biblically.
But how do we check whether our church is focused on the mission? I believe it’s up to mission-focused leaders to generate concrete evaluation practices to measure their church’s missional focus. Today I suggest three questions to start with:
1. What Is the Mission?
Perhaps it’s an obvious question, but we tend to forget why we exist. The church’s mission is born out of God’s plan. It’s not just something cool we’ve come up with; it’s part of what God has been doing throughout history. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that if we have more people or activities, we’re fulfilling our mission.CLICK TO TWEET
This question is the “what for?” For what purpose does the church exist? It exists to make disciples who obey Jesus as ministers of reconciliation. This affirmation of our mission as a church stems from passages like Matthew 28:18–20 and 2 Corinthians 5:18–20:
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:18–20)
2. How Will We Achieve the Mission?
We need to be clear about our mission, and we must also evaluate our methodology. In many churches, there’s a huge gap between the mission and what church activities actually accomplish. Churches may be busy day and night with activities but making very few real disciples.
Our methods must serve the mission. If they serve any other purpose, we’ll be diverted. We may enjoy what we do, but that doesn’t mean we’ve been effective in accomplishing the mission. The smiles on people’s faces are not a good evaluation parameter.
3. What Is My Role?
The last question we must answer is about our role as leaders. Here I suggest considering three things: missional centrality, methodology, and your willingness to evaluate your leadership.
- Keep the Mission Central
I came across the title of a book once that caught my attention. It provocatively urged an almost cruel, relentless focus on mission. Obviously, this doesn’t mean we should be cruel in a sinful way. Instead, it’s about being aggressive in ensuring that the mission remains at the core. Don’t be afraid to cancel whatever your church is doing that takes the focus away from the mission of making disciples of the Lord Jesus.CLICK TO TWEET
This is urgent. D. L. Moody said, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.” We need to keep the mission of Jesus central, constantly reminding our people of who we are in Christ and what he’s called us to do. Preach it, celebrate it, and make videos about it. Do what you have to do to remind them of the church’s mission in the world.
- Check the Methodology
As leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure that everything that happens under our supervision fulfills the mission. We must pass each activity, program, and event through the microscope of the mission to ensure that, in all the details, the mission advances. Don’t be afraid to cancel whatever your church is doing that takes the focus away from the mission of making disciples of the Lord Jesus.
- Evaluate Your Leadership
Furthermore, it’s imperative that you live the mission and not just talk about and protect it. As pastors, it’s easier to create a program and offer training than be an example of missionary life. We can’t just talk about what needs to be done; we must do it. Otherwise, our words will be empty.
Sometimes this means keeping our mouths shut for a while and crossing the street to meet our neighbor. Are you involved in the church community, or are you too busy in your office or the pulpit? Which of your activities should go under the microscope of the mission?
Questions like these will help us keep sight of the mission to which God has called us. Ultimately, it’s God’s mission and we’re blessed to participate in it. So, may we hold fast to Jesus, treasuring him above all else as we seek to proclaim his glory in all the earth.