An Uncommon Mission

By Ken Childress

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21

A cursory reading of this verse might give us the impression that Jesus is saying, “The Father first sent Me; now it’s your turn.” But there is more to this verse than that. He is also saying, “In the very same way that the Father sent Me, that’s how I’m sending you.” The crucial question then becomes: How did God send Jesus?

Philippians 2 gives us a good understanding of the nature of Jesus’ mission. He humbled Himself, He took the form of a servant, and He became obedient to the point of death (Phil. 2:6-11). Jesus went from heavenly riches to earthly rags; from exaltation to humiliation; from authority to obedience; from ultimate significance to ultimate rejection; from comfort to hardship; from safety to danger; from glory to sacrifice; and from life to death. And He calls us to go into the world in exactly the same way!

Read that list again. Every one of those humbling transitions goes against our grain. We try to work our way up, not empty ourselves. We want more more significance, more safety, more authority, more attention, more comfort. But Jesus calls us to die to ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Him. He sends us out as He was sent.

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Does your attitude match that of Jesus? Do you take your mission seriously enough to go into the depths of this world – whether those depths are in another country, your own city, or even your own family – and live the gospel of humility for others to see? Jesus’ mission is to redeem this world, and He intends to shine the light in every vile, dark corner of it – through you and me. He calls His followers into prisons and concentration camps, into opium dens and brothels, and into leper colonies and psychiatric wards. He also calls them into night clubs, corporate conference rooms, university classrooms, and sports arenas. There is no place too uncomfortable, dangerous, or unlikely. Are you willing? As the Father sent Him, so He sends us into our community.

3 Steps To Develop A Culture of Service – Part 2 of 2

This is part two of the article published in the previous post.

Repeat it

The pulpit (or table, in my case) will always be a key place to shape the values and culture of a church. When the pastor repeatedly inserts the idea of serving others into messages, writings, and conversations, it has an impact on the hearers and can work to correct a misguided focus.

For example, at Grace Church I work to talk about the culture we want to have. Our church uses the concepts Begin, Connect, Thrive, and Engage. Those are our four values. We’ve got a lot of people at Begin and Connect. But then, how do we move people into the last two: Thrive and Engage, creating a culture that our passion is disciple making? How do you do that?

We have to hammer it relentlessly. (And, we are not perfect at it; we need to do it more.)

As churches grow, most often you find that a higher percentage of people get the desired culture of the church at the beginning, while fewer people take hold of it later. You have to help those who come later (whether the church is 200 years old or two years old) to have the level of service they had at the beginning.

It’s that consistent repeating of the culture and its values that helps us to create a mindset discipleship.

To perpetuate this cultural value (or bring about a cultural shift) you must continually reiterate it with key leaders and get them engaged first. Then, you encourage them to repeat it in their small groups and within their circle of influence. You work with the various ministries in your church. Have them all consistently focus on developing a serving culture.

This is not a six-month process—this is a multi-year one. You will echo the values of your culture over and over again. Those who are not on board from the beginning will either allow the repetition to sink in and they’ll follow the new culture or they will become annoyed at repeatedly hearing about serving and they’ll leave. Sometimes, that’s a good thing.

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Celebrate It

I’ve repeatedly said, “What you celebrate you become.” The International Pentecostal Holiness Church celebrates church planting by giving pastors pins for planting or sponsoring church plants. Not surprisingly, their last two decades have been their best in a long time.

When I preached at Progressive Primitive Baptist Church, they clearly celebrated the educational achievements of their members including one young man who had a list of academic achievements from high school through his master’s degree.

Denominations and churches should affirm positives at least as much as you reject negatives. The people in the church should know that you stand against what is unbiblical, but there should be no doubt about the type of church culture you support.

You celebrate what you want to become.

If you want your church to keep a serving culture, you should celebrate it at every opportunity. Have recognition services for volunteers in your children’s department. (Medals may be appropriate there!) Create a monthly feature on your website to highlight a member who served others in an extraordinary way. Announce a church-wide celebration of every member who was involved in a mission trip during the past year. Whatever ideas you can come up with to continually remind your church what it is you value—do it!

We give away a volunteer award at our nights of worship. Last week, I had everyone applaud for the set up crew at the movie theater. We’ve had appreciation dinners for volunteers. The list could go on and on.

Those who visit your church should leave with a clear picture of what it is you value through what you celebrate. Members and attendees alike will see that servanthood is appreciated, which will encourage them to adopt the serving culture you have instilled and repeated throughout the body.

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

Here’s the thing, culture eats strategy for breakfast every day. That’s not from me. The quote, attributed to the late business guru Peter Drucker, reminds us that our plans are pointless if the environment in our church undermines them. Your strategy becomes sort of an add-on in which few people are engaged.

In John 20:21 Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” So that tells us that all of God’s people are sent on mission. 1 Peter 4:10 reminds us that all of God’s people are called to the ministry.

So, don’t miss it—all of God’s people are sent on mission and all of God’s people are called to ministry. The only questions: Where?, Among whom?, and Doing what?

Having a serving culture established through instilling it, repeating it, and celebrating it will provoke members to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). With that culture in place, they won’t be asking if they should serve. The questions will be where should I serve, among whom should I serve, and in what way can I serve.

That creates a serving culture—part of a missional focus—in your church.

This article was originally posted at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/march/moving-to-missional-part-i-3-steps-to-develop-culture-of-se.html