Called unto Holiness – Part 2 of 3

In the previous blog entry, I shared the introduction to a classic holiness message by Dr. Nina Gunter.  Today and in the final installment of the week, I am providing the remainder of her sermon.

In the 11 pages of the Historical Statement of our Manual, the words holiness and sanctification are referenced more than 70 times.

Holiness is our calling.

Holiness is our impetus.

Holiness is our passion.

Holiness is our fire.

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  • People are asking questions about holiness.
  • Mainline denominations are wanting to know more about the holiness movement.
  • The Roman Catholic church is asking questions. In fact, they sent a representative to the Wesleyan Holiness Study Project meeting.
  • Young people are drawn to the integrative force of the holiness message.

The Board of General Superintendents with general superintendents and bishops of the Wesleyan tradition participated, through Board representation, in a consortium to define the holiness movement.

The convenor, Kevin Mannoia, former bishop of the Free Methodist church and currently the graduate chaplain at Azusa Pacific University, released 10 phrases (the first five of which will be shared here, and the last five later this week) that are descriptors or characteristics of the holiness movement.

  1. Transformed character based, in large part, in the otherness of God.

We too will be “other.”

We have received the mandate: “Do not conform to this world.”

  • Jesus prayed for His followers, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
  • As believers, we are “set apart.”
  • Jesus gave Himself for us and purified for Himself “a peculiar people” or “a special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:14
  • This does not mean we are extreme—if so, we would tend toward being sectarian. But we areto be a special people.
  • The community around will then see the followers of Christ as a different people with godly values, Christian principles, right attitudes, and as honest, upright citizens.
  • Across the years, all over the world, the Church of the Nazarene has gone where we were not wanted, stayed, and lived Christ-like until the community said, “Don’t leave. We can’t do it without you.”
  1. Responsible engagement based in God’s incarnation.

God was not satisfied to be “other”, but rather took the initiative to live with and in us.

As a result, we take the initiative to engage in that which is broken among us.  This is the Missio Dei that derives from the nature of God.

Social and Missional engagement—incarnational expressions of personal and social holiness.

This includes ministry—making Christ-like disciples in all nations.  You cannot separate holiness and missions.

This missional engagement is here—there—everywhere—and includes ministry among the poor, disenfranchised, and marginalized.  It engages us to redress injustice.  Now we join with God in His purposes.  This is the optimism of grace.  Grace brings wholeness out of chaos.

The Missio Dei (The Mission of God) is best understood in the language of the Kingdom.  Kingdom living embraces God in worship in the midst of transnational, multilingual, multicultural, and transgenerational settings.

  1. Healthy relationships based upon the triune nature of God.

      Relationships based on the Kingdom model of mutuality.

  • Voluntary submission
  • Unity out of diversity

There is no unity until first there is diversity.  If there is no unity, there is no power.

  • We disagree, but we don’t destroy.

It was said of the New Testament church, “See how they love one another.”  That is, “See how they get along, accept each other, include each other.”

Healthy relationships are characteristic of a holy people—a holy church.

The Holy Spirit is the great unifier.  The proof of the Spirit is the works of love.  John Wesley spoke of a “pure love to God and men.”  God sanctifies together.

  1. Wise decisions based on the free choice of God to impart free will.

God has graced us with the freedom of choice.

Determinationdoesn’t make sense.

Wisdomcomes from the presence of Christ in us.

“If we lack wisdom, ask God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

God gives us freedomto use the wisdom He gives us.

  1. Curious thinking based upon the awesomeness of God.

            In His creativity God made us in His image.  He releases His creativity in us.  God is not a micro-manager.  He is the Creator and He hands it off to humanity.  God said, “You go rule over the earth.  You take care of my creation.”

            This curious thinking relates to our philosophy of liberal arts.  We pursue God in all the disciplines . . . with all the adventures . . . all the great discoveries.  We become lifelong learners of God’s truth . . . of His world . . . His people.

Therefore, the church embraces education—liberal arts—learning.

J.B. Chapman said, “We must build schools or die as a church.  We must be spiritually right, intellectually correct and scholastically strong.”  In a holiness movement, there is curious, critical thinking based upon the awesomeness of God.

***The rest of this sermon will be published later this week.

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Towards Missional Effectiveness: The Mark of Multiplication – Part 6 of 7

By Ed Stetzer

Go where people are, make disciples, plant churches.

I’m in a series covering the topic of missional effectiveness. In the previous two posts, I have explained the marks of God’s mission. What I have sought to do is stress the major foci of each mark in an effort to build a visual of the enactment of the message and movement of mission. Today, I’ll cover the missional mark of multiplication.

The Missional Mark of Multiplication Explained 

Thus far, I have attempted to outline the missional marks of community and sentness when the missio Dei is enacted in a local church. But there is one more missional mark that is enacted when the church embraces the totality of God’s mission, and that mark is multiplication.

Multiplication is used by God to advance His mission throughout the world. While the impulse of multiplication is hinted at in the OT in places like Genesis 1:28 (“be fruitful and multiply”), Genesis 15:5 (Abraham’s infinite number of offspring), and Jeremiah 29:6, it becomes very clear in the New Testament.

The missional mark of multiplication, particularly in the New Testament, rests upon Matthew 28:18–20, Acts 1:8, Acts 9:15, and Romans 15:20. In these passages, it is clear that God’s mission extends outward to the nations—to those who have not heard the gospel.

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The Apostle Paul clearly understood this. In fact, Paul saw God’s global mission connected to an aspect of God’s covenant with Abraham. Paul writes to the churches of Galatia, “Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and told the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, all the nations will be blessed through you” (Gal. 3:8). 

By understanding the mission of God as being directed towards the nations, Paul implemented a missions strategy that included targeting populated urban centers, evangelizing the city (micro multiplication), and planting and establishing churches (macro multiplication).

According to Eckhard Schnabel, there are [at least] fifteen phases or locations of Paul’s missionary work that took place in 35 years between his conversion (31/32 AD) and his death in Rome (67 AD). During those years, Paul had three missionary journeys.  As Paul went to the nations, he would go to their cities.

Tim Keller asserts that part of Paul’s mission strategy included going to the largest cities of the region. Very seldom do we see Paul navigating away from cities. It seems Paul believed that cities were where the potential for gospel impact and gospel multiplication would be greatest. Alvin Reid expresses that if churches reach the cities, they’ll reach the world. 

It seems that Paul thought that as well.

Once in the city Paul did at least two things: evangelized people and planted churches. Paul evangelized through preaching at the local synagogues, participating in small group Bible studies, meeting people in the marketplaces, renting halls and lecturing, and engaging people in his profession (tent-making). As he made disciples, he would then plant and establish churches.

Keller summarizes Paul’s missional engagement with the cities in this way:

When Paul began meeting with them [converts], they were called ‘disciples’ (Acts 14:22), but when he left them, they were known as ‘churches’ (see Acts 14:23). To put it simply, the multiplication of churches is as natural in the book of Acts as the multiplication of individuals. 

As seen in the life of Paul, multiplication requires intentionality. It requires going to where people are, sharing the good news of Jesus, and planting and establishing self-supported, self-governing, and self-propagating churches.

The Missional Mark of Multiplication Exemplified

The church in Antioch exemplifies the missional mark of multiplication. They multiplied exponentially in Antioch—reaching both Jews and Gentiles. Not only did they multiply in Antioch, but they also reached beyond their city. Antioch became the first sending church by sending the first missionaries and becoming the first church-planting church (Acts 13:1–3). Simply put, they became a multiplying church.

The missional mark of multiplication is really the missional program of the Early Church. The end result of the missional program of the church is found in Revelation 5:9 and 7:9, where John sees a vision of God’s people being from every tribe and language and people and nation. Thus, for a church to be missionally effective, it must become a multiplying church—going to where people are, making disciples (micro multiplication), and planting churches (macro multiplication).

 

This article was originally posted at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/january/towards-missional-effectiveness-mark-of-multiplication-part.html

 

Towards Missional Effectiveness: The Mark of Missional Community – Part 4 of 7

By Ed Stetzer

Community is the vehicle of God’s mission. 

In this blog series, we are looking at the topic missional effectiveness. Once again, missional effectiveness is embracing the totality of the missio Dei—including its message, movement, and marks—and enacting it in the life of a local church.

So far, I have covered the message and movement of God’s mission. In the next several blog posts, I will describe the marks of missional effectiveness. In essence, I will be answering the following question: what does it look like for the message and movement of mission to be enacted in the life of a local church?

Observing the grand narrative of scripture, I have come to believe there are at least three marks of enacting God’s mission. Today, I’ll cover the mark of community.

The Missional Mark of Community Explained

In Genesis 1, we are introduced to God and His mission. We learn that God created man and woman in His image, placed them in the garden, and told them to, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fist of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28).

From the very onset, the Bible communicates that God is on mission to create a people for Himself who will be the vehicle by which He advances His kingdom throughout the created order, thus having His glory—displayed through the lives of His image-bearers—fill the entire world.

Therefore, a mark of God’s mission is the creation of a people, or of a community, who serve as God’s vehicle of advancing His kingdom. This is the essence of the missional mark of community. And this mark is present in both the Old and New Covenant in places such as Exodus 19:4–6 and 1 Peter 2:9–12. These passages point to the reality of God creating a community for Himself.

In the context of Exodus 19, God established His covenant with Israel, which, according to Christopher Wright, made Israel a missional community. In his epistle, Peter borrows language from Exodus 19. Both of these passages find their origin in Genesis 1:26–28.

We learn here that a missional community is: (1) created by God and for God, (2) distinct from the world because of its obedience to the word of God, and (3) used by God as an attractive community for the world.

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#1: Created by God and For God

In the passages cited above, God is the one who created His people. He created Adam and Eve, Israel, and the Church. God’s people are His possession, His treasured people. A missional community understands that it has been created by God and for God.

This understanding not only leads the community to be in right relationship with God, but also one another. Why? Because they are a family brought about by their Father and King. A church that is in right relationship with God will be in right relationship with one another.

#2: Distinct from the World because of its Obedience to God’s Word

Having been placed in the garden, God not only gave Adam and Eve the cultural mandate (Gen. 1:28), but He also gave Adam instructions to guard and keep the garden as well as to enjoy freedom by eating from every tree except one. Adam was to pass along these instructions to Eve. Obedience to the word of God was the difference between living and extending Eden and being kicked out of Eden.

In the context of God’s covenant with Israel (Exod. 19), God gave Israel Ten Commandments to govern their lives, as well as over 600 more commandments to implement as a people. Obedience to the word and commandments of God was the difference between enjoying long life in the Promised Land and being taken into captivity in Babylon.

With regard to the Church, Peter exhorted it to be holy (Pet. 1:15-16), to long for the pure spiritual milk of the word of God (2:2), and to come to Jesus, the living stone (2:4). As they do, Peter explained they would be “built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (2:5).

It seems that longing for the word and coming to Jesus are prerequisites for the community of God to be holy and distinct. Thus, everything about the community of Jesus should revolve around Him and His word. Many describe this as gospel-centeredness.

#3: Used by God as an Attractive Community for the World

Both Moses and Peter used priesthood language to describe how the community (or nation) is to relate towards those outside. The term “priesthood”, applied to the community in both scriptural passages, speaks of living in the presence of God and mediating between God and those outside the community. Just as Israel was to be a people standing in the presence of God, reflecting His glorious light, and being a mediator for the nations living in darkness, so too is the Church.

As local churches are created by God and for God, and obey the word of God (in all areas of life both individually and corporately), God uses them as an ‘attractional’ mechanism to draw others to Himself. As churches embody and enact the life of God, they become an attractive community to a watching world. In fact, Peter shares that by observing our good works, those far from God will come to glorify Him (1 Pet. 2:12).

The Mark of Missional Community Exemplified

four_ways_gospel_centered_theology_225.jpgThe Jerusalem Church in Acts serves as example of a church that exhibited the missional mark of community. When Luke gave us a snapshot of the early church in Jerusalem, he revealed that they were devoted to God, His leaders, His word, and one another (Acts 2:42–47). As a result of gospel transformation, they attracted many Jews to their faith family. You could say that the church in Jerusalem had a strong centripetal force at work used to draw in many locals.

The Jerusalem Church also had many leaders who sought to protect the integrity of the ministry and mission (Acts 4, 5, 6, 7, 15) as well as add structures to enhance ministry and mission to the community (Act 6:1–7). In short, the Church in Jerusalem excelled as a faith community in its local context.

While the Jerusalem Church had a strong communal foundation that exhibited a gospel-centeredness, they eventually allowed their ethnocentrism, preferences, traditions, rituals, and practices to encroach upon their missional effectiveness. As a result, they became a community that existed for their own glory, neglected to obey the word in all areas of life, and became a non-attractive community due to unnecessary barriers they erected.

The mark of community speaks of a missional people. To embody and enact the mark of being a missional people, churches must be intentional about teaching that church, or ‘coming to’ church, isn’t about believers consuming elements from a religious vending machine, but about being part of God’s people (a community), who exists for His glory, obeys His word, and is used by Him as an attractional sign to the world.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the missional mark of sentness.

 

This article was originally posted at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/january/towards-missional-effectiveness-mark-of-missional-community.html

Towards Missional Effectiveness: The Movements of God’s Mission – Part 3 of 7

By Ed Stetzer

The mission of God is attractional and incarnational.

I don’t know why, but I have a fascination with yo-yos. Now, I can’t yo-yo. Nevertheless, I find it amusing and entertaining as a skilled yo-yoer (if I can use that term) cast the yo-yo out with great rhythmic force only to have it return with an energetic bounce to be cast back out and to come back to its starting place.

I often use the yo-yo and it’s movement as a way to describe God’s mission. Just as a yo-yo, when properly used, has a ‘going out’ and ‘coming in’ function, so too does God’s mission. Missiologists sometimes refer to this going out and coming in as the centripetal and centrifugal forces (movements) of God’s mission.

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The Centripetal Movement of God’s Mission

The centripetal movement (coming in) of God’s mission is most clearly seen in the Old Testament with the nation of Israel. God placed Israel in the middle of the nations. In the Promised Land they were called to be a light to the nations—to live so that the nations would be drawn to Jerusalem (see Exod. 19:5–6; Deut. 28:10; Isa. 49:6). As Israel embodied and enacted the life of God (i.e., the Kingdom of God), they were to be an ‘attractive sign’ to a watching world.

The centripetal movement of God’s mission remains as part of God’s missional call for the New Testament people of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His followers, “You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the light of the world. . . .[L]et you light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:13, 14, 16). Peter uses similar language found in his epistle (1 Pet. 2:9–12).

The centripetal force of mission expresses that mission isn’t only about going or doing (missions), it’s also about being. Thus, the identity and nature of God’s people manifested in the way they live out the cultural mandate, the Great Commandment, and their relationship with God becomes an attractional missional element among a lost and dying world.

The Centrifugal Movement of God’s Mission

The centrifugal movement (going out) of God’s mission is most clearly seen in the New Testament—although it is present in the OT in places like Joshua 2, Jeremiah 27 and 29, and Jonah. However, in a more pronounced way, Jesus introduces the paradigm shift of going out when He gives the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 1:8).

The Great Commission teaches that God’s mission isn’t just local, but global. And it is not the globe’s responsibility to come to the area where the local church resides, but the church’s responsibility to go to the globe.

The Great Commission (as well as Acts 1:8) is commenced in the Book of Acts and is to be continued today. Rather than people coming to Jerusalem, the believers went out from Jerusalem. Some have taken Acts 1:8 and created a (centrifugal) missions strategy that includes local missions, domestic missions, and international missions.

While I think this is helpful, I would also like for us to think about Acts 1:8 as a cross-cultural, cross-ethnic, and cross-racial mission. In other words, the Jewish believers were to centrifugally cross cultural, ethnic, and racial boundaries in order to share the gospel with those far from God.

This is an important point for believers living in an urban context—not to mention for all Christians given that we live in a globalized world. Over the last half-century, our world has experienced urbanization—an influx of people moving into cities.

Thus, our cities and their metro-plexes contain much diversity—they are typically multicultural, multiethnic, and multiracial. And the reality is that diversity isn’t slowing down; if anything, it’s accelerating. Those living in or around urban centers may encounter their own Jerusalemites, Judeans, Samarians, and foreigners.

The following is a chart to help understand the differences between the diverse groups—which are not only found throughout the world, but also where we live, work, and play—the Church was and is centrifugally called to reach all, simultaneousy.

Note that Acts 1:8 is an outline of the book of Acts, not an order that we follow. In other words, we don’t first reach our Jerusalem, then our Judea, and so on.

We are already, now, at the ends of the earth. The mission is from everywhere and to everywhere.

But there are some things we can still learn about the kind of people we are to reach. Here’s one way to think of it.

  • Jerusalem – Any location within the daily sphere of influence of your community of faith.
  • Judea – Any location outside of the daily sphere of influence of your community of faith, but shares a common worldview.
  • Samaria – Any location outside of the daily sphere of influence of your community of faith that has a slightly differing worldview, are often unappreciated and even disliked, but shares some commonalities with you.
  • Ends of the Earth – Any location outside of the daily sphere of influence of your community of faith that has a radically differing worldview with few, if any, commonalities.

Let me sum this up.

God’s mission moves two ways.

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First, it moves “attractionally” (magnetically) through the transformed lives of His people. Thus, it’s important for churches to teach and equip believers to live transformed, godly lives that are centered on King Jesus and that demonstrate His kingdom ethics. The mission of attractional living can and does lead to those far from God asking, “What must I do to be saved?”

Second, God’s mission moves “incarnationally” (externally) through God’s people being sent to a lost, dying, and diverse world. Thus, it’s important for churches to teach, equip, exhort, and provide avenues for believers to participate in God’s worldwide mission of reaching those far from God, a movement that begins with neighbors but that moves to the nations.

The mission of incarnational living can and does lead to the ingathering of all nations into one people—a people from every tribe, nation, tongue, and people group (Rev. 5:9; 7:9).

Next time, I will talk about the mark of a missional community.

This article was originally posted at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/december/towards-missional-effectiveness-movements-of-gods-mission-p.html

 

Towards Missional Effectiveness: The Message of God’s Mission – Part 2 of 7

By Ed Stetzer

God is on mission to glorify Himself. 

In the first post I explained that missional effectiveness is embracing the totality of the missio Dei—including its message, movement, and marks—and enacting it in the life of a local church.

I don’t know about you, but I have been on many honey-do runs in the course of my marriage. A honey-do run is simply a time when your wife sends you out (or because you are already out) to get some things for her. The mission is doing something for your honey, which is important in its own right.

However, the effectiveness of the mission will also be based upon your understanding of what she wants you to get. In other words, the message is a vital component of missional effectiveness. If you misunderstand or forget what it is your wife sent you to get, the effectiveness of the mission will falter.

With regard to the missio Dei, the message of mission is a vital component of missional effectiveness. If we misunderstand the message, or get the message wrong, the mission will be either off, or wrong altogether. Therefore, it is essential that we understand the message of God’s mission.

Simply put, the message of the missio Dei is that God is on mission to glorify Himself by means of advancing His kingdom on earth through the means of His people, empowered by His Spirit, who share and show the gospel of God’s kingdom in Jesus Christ.

There are at least five themes that serve as the elements of the message of God’s mission.

Element 1: God’s Glory

The message of God’s mission is that it’s all about Him! His glory is the ultimate goal and point of mission. We were created in His image to reflect His glory in all areas of our lives, but we rebelled and distorting the image of God. Thus, God is on mission to redeem and restore our damaged image in order that we may reflect His glory once again.

Element 2: God’s Kingdom

The message of God’s mission includes the establishment of His kingdom. Richard Bauckham expresses, “The Bible is a kind of project aimed at the kingdom of God, that is, toward the achievement of God’s purposes for good in the whole of God’s creation…” Because the nucleus of His mission includes both His glory and His kingdom, God has always had a pattern of creating a place for His people (us) and calls us to live life under His rule and reign.

From the beginning, God desired humanity to extend His rule and reign throughout the entire created order. G.K. Beale argues that as Adam and Eve were faithful to God in the Garden, living out His commands, enjoying perfect communion with Him, they inevitably would extend the geographical boundaries of Eden (i.e., His kingdom) until Eden covered the entire earth. As a result of living under God’s rule and reign, we experience blessing.

Element 3: God’s King

The message of God’s mission revolves around His king, King Jesus. The first Adam failed at imaging God and effectively ruling as God’s vice-regent over the created order. As a result of the fall of humanity (Gen. 3), we are incapable of glorifying God. Moreover, we aren’t only incapable of glorifying God, but we have been severed and separated from a relationship and connection with Him.

However, because of God’s great love for His glory, kingdom, and creation (and especially His image-bearers), He sent the second and better Adam, King Jesus, to redeem sinners (not to mention the entire cosmos).

Because of Christ’s obedient life, sacrificial death, temporary burial, victorious resurrection, and glorious ascension to the throne, God has highly exalted Christ giving

…Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9–11)

Jesus is the center of God’s kingdom (and His mission), for it is in Jesus that God is reconciling the world to Himself (Col. 1:20).

Element 4: God’s Spirit (Power)

The message of God’s mission involves the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit for effective mission to ensue. While the Spirit is definitely present in the Old Testament (under the Old Covenant), the Spirit under the New Covenant will indwell all believers, empowering them for kingdom living and mission advancement (Jer. 31:31–34; Ezek. 36:22–32; Matt. 28:18–20; John 20:21–22; Acts 1:8).

The two major roles of the Holy Spirit are to convict the world of sin (John 16:8) and conform God’s people into a worldwide worshipping missional community (Acts 1:8) who are sent out on mission. Thus, prior to his ascension, Jesus tells His disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit. Alvin Reid asserts:

When Jesus declared that His followers would receive power after the Holy Spirit had come upon them and that they would be witnesses, He meant that we could be effective witnesses—but not in our own strength. Effectiveness comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

In short, the Spirit of God is the power source for the embracement, embodiment, and enactment of God’s mission.

Element 5: God’s People

The message of God’s mission includes His people’s participation. Essentially, God’s mission creates the instrument of His mission, namely His people. That’s us. From Adam to Israel and from Jesus to the Church, God’s people are called to participate in His kingdom mission. In Jesus, the Church was created as the redeemed saints of God to be His worldwide witnessing agents. Thus, as Emil Brunner once pointedly penned, “The church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning.” 

In order to fulfill God’s mission, His people (the Church, us) are to verbally share and demonstrably show the good news of God’s kingdom in King Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we proclaim the good news that Jesus is making all things new (Rev. 21:5), while demonstrating that reality as we enact God’s kingdom ethics in all areas of our lives—personal, marital, familial, social, relational, cultural, vocational, etc.

Next time, I will talk about the movements of God’s mission.

 

This article was originally posted at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/december/towards-missional-effectiveness-message-of-gods-mission-par.html

 

Towards Missional Effectiveness: An Introduction – Part 1 of 7

  By Ed Stetzer

What is mission? What is missions? What is missional?

Like most people, I want what I buy to work and be effective at what it was created to do.

For instance, I have a smartphone that keeps track of my life. I call, text, surf the web, tweet, Facebook, use Maps to get directions, make calendar appointments, etc. It helps me to function at a high level. In fact, I must confess that I couldn’t imagine going back to the pre-age of smartphones. I assume I would manage, but not without making some major adjustments.

However, the good news is that smartphones are here to stay and the technologies and capabilities will be ever increasing to help enhance our lives in some capacity.

But what if all of a sudden my smartphone didn’t work effectively? What if the screen started to freeze frequently and Siri started telling me where she wanted to go, rather than me telling her? I would likely be frustrated and look for an upgrade. Why? Because we want what we buy to work effectively at what it was created and designed to do.

When it comes to the mission of God (missio Dei), God bought a vehicle (the Church) by which He will carry out His mission in the world. The Church is God’s Plan A for advancing His mission in the world.

There is no Plan B.

Thus, the design and intended creation of the Church is to be the vehicle by which God (through the good news of Jesus Christ) creates a people for Himself from all peoples on the earth. As a result, the DNA of the Church is, and must continue to be, missional.

We were birthed from God’s mission for God’s mission.

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Just as we want our smartphones (and the other things we buy) to operate according to their design and intended purpose, God wants the Church, whom He purchased by the blood of Christ, to be faithful to its purpose and, yes, effective at advancing His mission throughout the earth. In all truthfulness, one would think that if God’s people understood the gravity of how Jesus purchased their salvation and how their salvation relates to God’s mission and their role in it, they would be missionally effective.

In order to understand missional effectiveness, let me define what I mean by missional and missional effectiveness.

The term missional has been used quite a bit in the last 20 years. While missional has been popularized, it has not experienced a consistent usage or a consensus definition.

One of the reasons why there’s so much confusion around this word is because the term missional is an adjective. By definition, adjectives are not easy to define, because they are used to accomplish the purpose of the author. One sees this in the way missional has been used. Yet, the flexibility of missional is both a benefit and a frustration. Because many practitioners, theoreticians, and foes have kept themselves busy defining, defending, and dissecting the term, the meaning of the term has become blurred and caused some to swear off the word altogether.

However, I am not ready to concede this conclusion. I believe missional has enduring value. The question is not whether the term should be used, but how it should be used. How should we define missional?

At its simplest, missional is an adjective that describes a person or church who participates in the missio Dei.

But, of course, simple needs to be fleshed out.

For example, although this is not all it means, the idea of missional certainly includes missions. Lesslie Newbigin and others have helpfully distinguished the terms mission and missions. Newbigin understood mission to be the all-embracing term that refers to the entire task for which the Church is sent into the world, and missions as the intentional activities designed to create a Christian presence in places where there is no such presence, or at least no effective presence. (1)

So, it’s a big word because it is a big mission.

In light of what I have noted above, I understand missional as the totality of embracing, embodying, and enacting God’s mission in the world.

While I am grateful for all the missional talk, articles, books, and conferences, I am still somewhat concerned about the fact that many don’t seem to fully understand the essence of missional. Andreas Köstenberger rightly concludes, “A church that is unsure of its mission will not be effective in carrying it out.” (2) That is exactly what we see in too many churches in the West.

Most church approaches to mission are still founded upon twentieth-century strategies, which find root in an Enlightenment imagination—if we work harder, create more strategies, and techniques, then we can reach more people. Churches often begin with themselves and how they—through their strategies, programs, and ministries—can reach more people.

Churches then function as the originators of mission, which ultimately leads to a of lack missional effectiveness.

So, let me be clear about effectiveness in this context.

Missional effectiveness is embracing the totality of the missio Dei—including its message, movement, and marks—and enacting it in the life of a local church and beyond.

Thus, missional effectiveness begins with the mission of God. It begins with the church asking itself what mission looks like to God and crafts its identity, nature, and practices around His mission.

To help challenge and encourage church leaders (and their churches) towards missional effectiveness, this blog series will discuss the message, movement, and modes of God’s mission. And it will then conclude with some application to the twenty-first-century church.

This article was originally posted at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2016/december/towards-missional-effectiveness-introduction-part-1-of-7.html