Every year (especially around Easter) I hear of another church doing something crazy to get people in the door of their building:
◊ One church gave away a car.
◊ One church surprised random attenders with a shopping spree.
◊ One church dropped Easter eggs on top of people’s heads from a helicopter.
Somehow I don’t think that Easter eggs or Oprah-like bribery is exactly what Jesus had in mind when He told us to make disciples of all nations. Jesus has given the church a specific mission and He has also given us the means to pursue that mission.
In order for the local church to bring glory to God and be obedient to Jesus’ commands we must use Jesus’ means to pursue Jesus’ mission.
The Spirit of God
Jesus told His disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit as a Helper. Just before He ascends into heaven, Jesus says to His followers, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Because the Spirit of God indwells us, the local church has received supernatural power, spiritual gifts, encouragement, guidance, wisdom, comfort, and strength. These are all gifts that do not come from human abilities, innovation, or training (though by God’s grace He has given us those things too). In other words, anyone can have leadership skills or marketing skills but only the church has the Spirit of God dwelling among them and empowering them to pursue the mission.
The Word of God
On one occasion after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and told them that everything that had happened had been a fulfillment of what had been written about Him in the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (the complete Hebrew canon). The next verse is powerful: “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:45) This Scripture is the very Word of God, inspired by God to make us complete in Him and equip us for every good work (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The Word of God equips us for the Work of God. If we neglect the Word there is no hope that we will accomplish our mission.
The People of God
God uses His people to advance His mission. Consider the first thing that happens after Jesus’ ascension when the people of God are empowered by the Spirit of God to proclaim the Word of God to the nations:
- Transformation – Those who hear are “deeply convicted” and ask, “Brothers, what must we do?” Answer: Repent and be baptized; (Acts 2:37-40)
- Multiplication – At least 3,000 people accept the message and are baptized; (Acts 2:41)
- Spiritual Growth – New believers devote themselves to apostle’s teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers; (Acts 2:42)
- Worship – Awe settles over the people because of the signs and wonders of the apostles; (Acts 2:43)
- Ministry – Believers spend time together, sell possessions, and meet one another’s needs; (Acts 2:44-45)
- Togetherness – They meet together daily in the temple complex and from house to house; (Acts 2:46)
- Cycle continues – They praise God and others are continuously being added to their number (Acts 2:47)
The rest of the book of Acts is a record of the explosive combination of the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the people of God. If there’s any doubt that God can use the members of your local church or mine, just remember who we are talking about. Jesus masterfully pulled together a group of people that were commoners who had little in common and He gave them a mission and the means to pursue that mission. This same Jesus has given us that same mission and equipped us with the same means in pursuing that mission.
When the people of God are empowered by the Spirit of God and equipped by the Word of God, should we expect anything less than explosive, God-honoring, awe-inspiring transformation and growth?
What do you think? Is your church using Jesus’ means to pursue Jesus’ mission? Are we dependent on our programs and our plans or on the power of God?