Summary: Based on the Great Commission and reinforced with many sources, this speaks of returning the church body to pre-Constantine days!
Becoming a Missional Church
* Billy Graham is a name most everyone knows. Today, his name carries a note of authority, authenticity, and integrity. What you may not know or do not remember is that Dr. Graham was not always popular. The story is told about him being scheduled for a meeting in one community and one of the “highly educated” pastors in that community was heard to say, “He set our churches back 20 years.” When Dr. Graham heard this, his comment was, “If I set the church back 20 years, I have missed my mark! I desire to set it back 2000” years!” In our modern day, an argument can be made that no one has influenced more people toward Jesus than has Dr. Graham. Why did he have such a passion and drive to see people come to Christ? What was in him that kept him going? To read his history one comes to understand that he came to a crisis of faith about the word of God and made the determination that the Bible was true & should be taken literally at face value. The anointing of God which followed is chronicled by the mass of people he spoke to and the thongs which responded. To believe God’s word will change your life!
* Today we have read the last recorded words of Jesus before He ascended to heaven and what I would like to do is to read all 5 places where these words are recorded. (Read Matt 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, & Acts 1)
* Reading these verses, can we agree that Jesus had something in mind for His church? In every recorded instance of His last words, Jesus called those who believe in Him to action, to service, and to mission.
* For years, as Southern Baptist we have identified ourselves as mission-minded. Basically this has meant that we support the Cooperative Program we do and should do. Through our gifts, we support mission in North America and around the world. (OMC). In recent years, we have taken another step in our mission’s involvement with Mission Trips. In the last 5 years, we have sent people to Mexico and Mississippi. Again, we do and should do (even more) of this. However, in the context of scripture, it would seem that Jesus intended believers to be home missionaries. This means, wherever you and I go, whatever we do, and whatever we say, we are His ambassadors, His spokesperson, and His representative. In simplistic terms, this is what is meant by “becoming a missional church.” Do you see yourself as a missionary? A missionary is one who is on a mission. Are you on a mission to help bring people to God?
* Now some are saying, “I don’t think I signed up for this.” Yet, I will submit that at the point we place our faith in Christ, He sends the Holy Spirit to indwell us and as surely as the believers in Acts were filled and became missionaries at home, so the same happens today. It is divinely expected.
* In his study, “Your Church: Experiencing God together”, Henry Blackaby calls the local church, a “World Missions Strategy Center.” This means we support missions with our money and we see ourselves as missionaries for the Lord in this place.
* If this is the case, why has the church been so silent about it for so long? Aren’t the old ways good enough for us? When we say “the old ways”, we are really alluding to the way things have been done in our lifetime (100 years or less). Let me offer us words which may help us to understand how it was that the church got off track—and maybe we haven’t had a chance to get things right.
* We read, study, and know what the Bible says in the book of Acts about the early church. They began in the upper room with the anointing of God. Quickly they grew to a multi-staffed, mega church of over 3000. They had no buildings to care for, no budget to speak of, and literally were rotating meeting places between the temple complex and small groups in homes. They had nothing of what we think is important. They simply began as a movement. This people who claimed to know Jesus were considered renegades, rebels, even heretics because they based they entire existence on the premise that Jesus was alive and made a difference in the lives of people. They met daily, but everyday they were going about their normal lives and in the process other people were being drawn into the group. The only thing these believer had going for them was that even their opponent could see that “they had been with Jesus.” This was the apostolic church. They had no publicity except word of mouth & impact of lives. Church in this manner went on for approximately 300 years.