Yesterday I shared with you the beginning of a journey for FBC Perry. It is a journey I had taken before. I 2009, I was called as pastor of a church in South Carolina that I would later define as a staying church in decline. It was there God taught me some things about revitalization and set my heart for leading my congregation from staying to sending status; although I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time. There were convictions about ministry and people that were set in my heart forever during that time that I employ today. The people believed, prayed, and worked. It took almost three years for the vision to fully seat. It was not an easy journey, but it was a necessary one. Recently Mark Clifton shook the church-revitalization world when he asked, “What is there about a dying church that brings glory to God?” His answer, “Nothing.” Ouch. Looking back, that makes perfect sense.
Things are different today – different people, context, resources, opportunities, expectations. Thankfully that which is the same is also the most crucial: God’s faithfulness. We have literally just started this journey and is not as easy one. That’s okay, we didn’t think it would be. It is one plagued with questions, setbacks, and misunderstandings. That’s okay, constructing something new is never problem-free. It is a journey I believe started late. That’s okay, it’s not when, where, or how you start, but that you start. It is however a journey with a clear end in mind- to be a sending church. To live in obedience to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and embrace the imperatives of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:35-40), FBC has embraced a vision to become a sending church. The following statement offers a picture of what I believe God desires us to become.
A Sending Church – a community of Christ-followers who consistently mobilize, train, and send members to the mission field, both locally and globally, serving as a place of refuge for many people, including those who are far from God.
For us to achieve God’s vision for our church, there had to be a focus on what truly matters. We must live in the truth that Jim Collins espoused, “Good is the enemy of great.” The following core value statements serve as anchor points and a lens to filter ministry work. These core values will shape our budgeting, refine ministries, and serve as a framework for membership expectations. This is what matters to us.
- We believe the Gospel is the greatest love story ever told. It is the message that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, born of a virgin, who lived a sinless life, and who offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, and He rose from the dead the third day. It is our desire that the Gospel is at the center of all that we do. While there are many good things that churches should be doing, above all else we are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ’s love to a lost and dying world. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
- We believe saved people serve. We choose to live on-mission and be an outwardly-focused church who engages our families, neighbors, co-workers, communities, state, country, and world with the life-changing message of the Gospel. We engage in mission work both locally and globally; putting our God-given talents, passions, and abilities to work in service to others. We long to see the lost find new life in Jesus Christ and believers discover the calling God has placed on their lives. (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 10:45, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, 2 Corinthians 5:19-20)
- We believe living things grow. Spiritual growth is about “becoming.” As we pursue Christ-likeness, we are changed from the inside out, becoming more like Christ, and loving others the way He loves us. Spiritual growth requires commitment and focus, and is nurtured by corporate worship, personal and family devotions, Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. (Ephesians 4:11-16, Philippians 3:14, Colossians 1:28, 2 Peter 3:17-18)
- We believe you cannot out-give God. We believe living a significant life and foremost a call to generosity, because we serve a generous God. He has graciously given us everything we have: our life, our breath, and our abilities. He has entrusted these to us out of His great mercy and love. In God’s economy, believers are called to a life giving and sacrifice. We joyfully and sacrificially give of our time, talents, and treasure. It is through the Church we consistently and faithfully support the advancement of the Gospel. (Proverbs 11:24-25, John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 1-5, 9:6-8, 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
- We believe you cannot do life alone. Genuine life-change happens best in the context of relationships. Scripture offers many “one another” statements that remind us of how we are to relate to each other. We believe life-change also happens in the context of community. This includes the concepts of discipleship, vulnerability, and accountability. The image of a solitary Christian life is foreign to the Scriptures. Biblical community affords the believer strength and encouragement, as well as fosters a sense of unity. (John 13:34-35, Acts 2:46, 4:34-35)
- We believe in pulling together in the same direction. For the Gospel to be made known to our neighbors and the world, we understand the need to surrender our individual preferences and seek God’s perfect will. As we work side by side, we share in the joy of seeing our unique strengths, abilities, and gifts unite to advance God’s kingdom in our community and around the world. We will work under the banner, “In the essentials, unity; in non-essentials, grace; in all things love.” (Psalm 133, Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-33, Philippians 2:2)
- We believe only our best will do. God is worthy of our very best because He gave us His very best for the forgiveness of sin- His Son, Jesus Christ. We believe excellence honors God, reflects His character, and influences people. Therefore, a growing spirit of excellence should permeate every activity and ministry. We strive for excellence without compromise in all areas of our ministry and lives. (Malachi 1:6-14, Colossians 3:17, 23-24)
- We believe each individual matters to God. As a result, we believe God has commanded us to love and value our neighbors, regardless of their racial, cultural, or socioeconomic background. Because each person is made in the image of God, he/she possesses value and deserves the opportunity to hear the good news of the Gospel. (Genesis 1:26a, Luke 5:30-32, Luke 15)
2 thoughts on “Constructing a New Reality – Part 2”
This is the first time I have seen the reference “staying church”, but it is an accurate description. I heard J. D. Greear say that he measured The Summit Church’s success by its sending capacity rather than its seating capacity. I’m not sure what the percentage of “staying” churches is, but I’m sure it is disturbing. If I were to plant again, I would definitely value many of the things you outline here. I spent way too much time focusing on social issues…lesson learned!
As far as I know, it’s my term and definition. It just seemed to be the opposite of sending. I had heard the term “sending” and “sent” used a great deal by our North American Mission Board, but never defined, so I defined it. In my 20 years of ministry, I have pastored both types of churches. I appreciate your thoughts.