Words to describe the missional community
This was the word was commonly used to describe God’s people in the Old Testament.
One of the great “doing life together” stories in the Old Testament is
the story of Achan. When Joshua led the Israelites into Jericho, the
people were instructed not to take any spoils. Achan disobeyed that
instruction, and it cost Israel the second battle. As a result, Achan
and his entire family paid the price with their life. (Compare this
with 1 Corinthians 12 in the NT, which indicates that Christ-followers
are connected. What one of us does, affects the rest of us!)
This word means, a “gathering.”
This is the Greek word for church, used in the New Testament. It’s a gathering of people who are “called out” for mission.
This word is used in the New Testament to describe the life that Christ-followers lived with one another.
This is a highly common phrase in the New Testament, demonstrating the
importance of relationships in the body of Christ. We truly need to
think of others more than we think of ourselves, and remember, “it’s
not about me!”
This word is not in Scripture, but I think it’s a great metaphor for
what we are about. Symphony means, “sounding together.” I love that! We
are about sounding together. When we do a better job of sounding
together, we will be more healthy spiritually, and we will truly be
As you read the book of Acts, it’s obvious that “church” for the
earliest Christ-followers was not an exclusive club; it was clearly a
missional community, a community driven by a mission to extend God’s
invitation to the world!
Doing Life Together
So, let’s talk about becoming God’s symphony. How can we learn to do life together? How can we become a missional community?
Doing life together is about relationships! Following Christ with
others in community is what it’s all about. We do life together. We
learn together; we worship God together; we discern God’s will
together; we bear one another’s burdens; we laugh together, and
sometimes we weep together.
And, there are right ways of relating and there are wrong ways of
relating. Right ways of relating are always motivated by love. If it’s
motivated by love for people and it honors God, do it! But if it
doesn’t honor God, and if it isn’t motivated by love for people, don’t
- If you’re the offender, you initiate: Matthew 5.21-26
- If you’re the offended, you initiate: Matthew 18.15-20
Gossip in the Valley
An example of how not to do life together took place this past week. A
woman prayed for Joleen last Sunday in her worship gathering. She
prayed for five things, including our marriage. Joleen was moved by the
whole experience, and shed a few tears. Someone asked her on the way
out if she was okay; she said they were tears of joy.
Well, we learned on Friday that there’s a rumor making its rounds here
in our rural valley — Joleen and I are having marriage problems!
We must experience spiritual renewal and spiritual growth! Not only
does our mission depend on it, but so does our very existence.
My tendency (maybe even weakness) is to focus on the “silver lining” in
any given situation. And I can usually see a “silver lining” in just
about any situation. That’s great, but that also means I have to work
at seeing and dealing with reality as well. That’s what I want to try
to do today.
As some of you know, I sent out an e-mail Thursday evening encouraging
you, and the people you would be in touch with, to make every effort be
I said I wanted to address our current spiritual condition from my
perspective as well as what our future looks like from my vantage
point. I wanted as many of you to be here as possible because I know
how the grapevine works – not very well!
The Silver Lining
First, the silver lining: I believe that there is so much potential
here. I believe that God can turn anything around, when God’s people
surrender themselves to God and make themselves available to God!
Reality Check: Answer those questions for yourself …
- Are we growing or declining?
- Are we making disciples? That is, are people making professions of faith among us?
- Are our members becoming missionaries to their neighborhoods?
- Are we helping people find Jesus in their own way and timing?
- Are we practicing our faith in community?
- Are we doing life together?
The Cause of Death is Always Spiritual
I want to make something clear: the cause of death in a church is
always spiritual. Churches don’t die because of declining attendance,
membership, and finances. Churches die because they lose their
spiritual vitality. Financial bankruptcy is always preceded by
Again, I believe there is so much potential for missional success here.
But we will only be successful in our mission when we experience
That’s true whether we exist as three churches or as one! Merger isn’t
a quick fix – without spiritual renewal and a commitment to be a
missional community (a community engaged in mission in its
neighborhoods), merging will only prolong the death of our church(es)!
If you decide to merge, it’s okay to merge in order to survive. But,
that cannot be the only reason. If the only reason you merge is to
survive, again you are only prolonging the death! There has to be more
than simply surviving. There has to be a cause, a mission. You have to
be motivated by the belief that we are better together than we are
Seeking Spiritual Renewal
Surrender to God
Salvation is a gift offered to us without price. But,
discipleship (our response to the free gift of salvation) is costly.
Spiritual growth and renewal come at a great cost – our life! Salvation
is receiving Christ’s life; discipleship is giving our life to Christ. I believe spiritual renewal begins with surrender!
“We work together as God’s partners who belong to God.” (1 Corinthians 3.9a)