The Desire of the Sending Church

Does the church always act like the church?  Scripture presents pictures of what the church looks like while 2000 years of Christianity have established models and structures with various degrees of success.

‘I will bless you and make you a blessing,’ God told Abraham (Genesis 12).

‘I will make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth,’ God told the nation of Israel (Isaiah 49).

‘The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,’ Jesus told Zacchaeus (Luke 19).

Bless.  Reach.  Seek.  Save.  Those are strong, active verbs.  By association these actions of God are reflected upon the heart and activity of the local church.  Why does it sometimes, perhaps often, feel like the church is not being the church?  Not blessing others.  Not being a light to those around us.  Not filling up the seats with those Jesus is seeking and saving.

We don’t want to take God’s place in redemption.  We do want to be the expression of God’s heart by augmenting his salvific orchestration with God-honoring practices.

How does one measure desire, especially in a corporate setting like the church?  One helpful measurement of desire rests upon the activities, commitment and methodology of the local church surrounding its ‘blessing’ and ‘reaching’ strategies.

The term ‘sending church’ reflects the fact that the church is supposed to send people with the gospel.  Sometimes the people of God welcome the people of the world into their presence.  Other times, the people of God go to the people of the world because leaving home is at the heart of mission.  The Great Commission says that ‘while we are going’ we are to teach, disciple and baptize in the presence of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28).

The church must send.  The church must go.  The church must be.  Otherwise, the church is not acting like the church, bringing its character, not to mention its understanding of Scripture, into question.

The desire of the sending church is to be the church, to go into the world and to send its people, accompanied by the Savior, who is seeking and saving the lost.

The three-fold purpose of the church to worship, fellowship and reach out inter-twine and to the degree they are separated then the church is not functioning as the church was intended.

Renewed emphasis on being missional these days reminds us that the church, in its essence, embodies the seeds of the gospel and is tasked with scattering.  While some movements focus on church planting, other movements focus on church hunkering down.  New churches are being planted locally and globally but are they being infused with the essence from which they were formed?

We can talk about being a missions-minded church, sending out missionaries and fulfilling the Great Commission.  We can discuss the roles of the local church and the para-church.  We can debate modality vs. sodality.  We can study church planting and multi-site glocalities.  The heart of the matter is this:  Will the church be the church?  Does the church desire to fulfill God’s intentions for his bride?

– Read a parable of the sending church

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