After an unscheduled hiatus, I will continue the “A Tale of Two Churches” series. I began by offering the definition of staying and sending churches. Following the definition of the two church types, I offered 10 characteristics of staying churches. Allow me to recap the definitions.
Staying Churches are those who devote the great majority of their resources, time, and energy to keeping those who are already a part of the church happy and satisfied. They acknowledge their community, but the acknowledgment doesn’t necessarily translate to responsibility.
Sending Churches are those who are externally focused and intentional when it comes to sending people and resources into their community for the sole purpose of introducing people to Jesus Christ. The acknowledgment of their community translates to responsibility and action.
Let’s move on to the characteristics of Sending Churches.
1. Sending Churches understand that time in an enemy. God’s Word have much to say about time. We place time into three concrete categories: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Yesterday in an enemy. We have no control over yesterday, it is gone forever. Yet, Satan would love to keep us here. He would love to keep the church in living in the past. He would enjoy keeping our focus on the “good ole days.” He knows that to do will render the church ineffective today. Tomorrow is an enemy. We enjoy living here as much as we do in the past. We make plans. We talk about where we are going and what we will be doing. We are reminded in James 4:14, “… you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
It is impossible to have control over something that is not even promised to us. Satan would have the church play the “wait until tomorrow” game. On the other hand, we have control over today. We must take advantage of it and spend it in pursuit of what matters to God. The hurting, the broken, the hopeless, and the 3 out of 4 North American’s who are lost do not need the church to waste the time it has been given. With no way to change the past and no assurance there will be a tomorrow, today has to count. It was Dr. David Allen who said, “The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”
2. Sending Churches have resolved in their heart and minds the church exists for those who are not yet a part of it. Churches are communities of people who have been and are being changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ – that He died and rose again to save the lost. Churches are not places for perfect people, but for those who are broken and sinful. In fact, this is who Jesus came to call and continues to call to himself today. The Church cannot be a place for the saved and satisfied only. The Church has a purpose – to be a living example of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ in this world. Sending churches are willing to sacrifice comfort, traditions, personal preferences to reach those who have not been transformed by God’s grace.
The purpose of anything is in the mind of its creator. The Church was built and formed to be a missionary force empowered to bear the good news of the gospel. Through the centuries we have allowed it to become a sanctuary – an institution for meeting the needs of the saved. Sending Churches has not forgotten William Tyndale’s words, “The Church is the one institution that exists for those outside it.”