Summary: The early church described in Acts 2 is a model for churches today. It was a Missional Church.
Characterists of a Missional Church
What has been your experience in attending church? Has your experience been pleasant and exciting or boring and frustrating?
My first memory of church was the small church located across the street from our house in Gypsum, Kansas. On Sunday mornings my mother would rind the church bell and sometimes she would lift me up so I could pull the rope and ring the church bell for all in Gypsum to hear.
The heating system for the church was a pot belly stove in the center of the sanctuary. On some winter Sundays the sanctuary was toasty and warm. I noticed that a nodding congregation doesn’t always mean the people are agreeing with you.
When I was in the 8th grade the church was closed and we started attending another church in town. At that time there were only three other choices. The church as it turned out was a very liberal in its theology. I took the Pastor’s Class and remember one Sunday coming home following the class and telling my mother what the pastor had taught. He taught that we all came from monkeys. That Jesus was a good man, but was not born of a virgin nor did he rise from the grave. He gave great hope to us because of the love of God there was no hell and God was waiting for all of us in heaven.
I attended church out of duty not delight. I would often tell my mother that I wanted to sit in the church balcony so I could have greater visibility. When the pastor started his sermon I would sneak down the stairs and go home and make a sand witch and make it back to church in time for the benediction. I would come down stairs and meet my mother outside the church.
The summer between my 9th and 10th grades my dad was unfaithful to my mother so my parents separated and my mother and I moved to Sterling, Kansas. My mother taught 2nd grade and I started 10th grade at Sterling High School.
One of the students in my mother’s 2nd grade class invited us to attend the Missionary Church. The Missionary church is a Bible teaching church and it was there that I learned that it takes more than signing your name to a card and becoming a member of a church to have the assurance of going to heaven. I committed my life to Jesus and was baptized. With Christ in my heart I now had a desire to attend church and going to church was no longer a duty. I wanted to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
A Missional Church does not exist for herself. A Missional Church exists for others. The early church was made up of a community of believers totally devoted to God. People in the community cared for one another and they were willing to risk their very lives to reach out in love to people who did not yet understand the love of God.
During the past nine years that I have been here the Willow Vale Church has made the month of November missions emphasis month. Our goal is to be a Missional church. We from time to time need to remind ourselves that our mission is to continue the work that Jesus started; “To seek and to save the lost and make disciples of all people groups.”
During the past 9 nine years we have tried many ways to gain visibility in the community and let people know that we are open to serve the community. When I first came here nine years ago I talked to people in our neighborhood and asked them if they had ever visited our church. Many said they didn’t know it was a church. Some thought it was a retreat center.
To gain visibility we have sent out several direct mailings to 10,000 to 15,000 residents in a mile radius of our church. We had knocked on 350 homes asking questions about how we can better meet the needs of our ministry area. We handed out 500 light bulbs with scripture quoting “Jesus is the Light of the World.” We have done acts of kindness by washing windshields and giving refreshments to the community recovery groups that meet at our church. We have gone on prayer walks knocking on doors and praying for family concerns. We handed out 100 copies of the Jesus film developed by Campus Crusade for Christ.
The mission statement on our church bulletin describes our mission as a local church: “Bringing people to Jesus, loving, equipping, and sending them out to make more and better disciples.”