Characteristics of a “Church on Mission” according to Matt Chandler with some of my thoughts

Matt Chandler spoke on what a church on mission looks like at an Acts 29 boot camp.

A Church on mission…

  1. …Embraces the functional centrality of the gospel
  2. …Believes in the full authority, sufficiency, and inerrancy of Scriptures (expository preaching)
  3. …Embraces the call of God as sent missionaries
  4. …Is actively seeking to be trained and equipped as missionaries as a community of believers.
  5. …Is dependent on the Holy Spirit to use us as agents for evangelizing the lost world.
  6. …Develops relationships with the lost for the purpose of incarnating Christ in their lives
  7. …Practices sacrificial love as a reflection of Jesus in their relationship with others
  8. …Humbly helps others to find Jesus in their own timing rather than forcing them to make superficial decisions for its own glory
  9. …Is committed to practicing faith in community (sharing a common mission together) risking time, money, emotional pain, and often failure.

Figure out how to die to yourself and your own desires.

“The church on mission is a theologically informed, gospel-centered, Spirit-led fellowship who seeks to faithfully incarnate the purposes of Christ. The mission of the church is found in the mission God, who is calling the church to passionately participate in God’s redemptive mission in the world.”

My thoughts:

  1. It seems that a lot of church’s that don’t use the missional language are indeed churches “on mission.” Capitol Hill Baptist Church in DC led by Mark Dever and Grace Community Church in LA led by John MacArthur come to mind though not typically thought of as churches “on mission.”
  2. I love this vision of the church, and I pray and want CrossView Church to be this.
  3. The definition of the mission is a bit unclear, though I think I know what he’d define it as. He uses “missionary” in #3 and #4. I think the mission to Chandler is to be an agent for evangelizing the world (#5), to incarnate Christ in relationship with lost people (#6), to help others find Jesus (#8). According to his last quote, the mission is to incarnate the purposes of Christ and participate in God’s redemptive mission in the world. That is unclear. For some that includes social/righteous justice. For others it is primarily evangelism. It needs to be clear (read this post on clarifying the mission).
  4. How do the purposes of evangelism, worship, fellowship, and loving our neighbors relate to each other? They are not simply 4 co-equal purposes. They have some hierarchical and defined relationship and we would do well as Christians dedicated to serving with our local churches to tease out what that relationship is.
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About pjtibayan

I love Jesus Christ and live to share life and share Jesus together with First Southern Baptist Church of Bellflower primarily to Southeast Los Angeles County.
This entry was posted in church, church health, church planting, CrossView Church, mission. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Characteristics of a “Church on Mission” according to Matt Chandler with some of my thoughts

  1. Albert Tsao says:

    Terms “values” or “rhythms” do a better functional job as to demonstrate how “mission” is lived out. The doctrinal statements of an “evangelistic” and a “missional” church can be the same, but values/rhythms can be dramatically different. I don’t think most evangelistic churches would say that they seek to incarnate Christ in other people’s lives or to be trained as missionaries.

    I tend to look at Grace and CHBC as very evangelistic, but not necessarily “missional” in the sense that their people certainly do not feel that they are missionaries sent to their particular contexts. They are still primarily operating in context that has a Christian worldview, not one with a pre or post Christendom mindset. If they did, they would do things completely different.

    I think Grace is very evangelistic, but only within a small segment of the population, particularly “churched” or “de-churched” people. So, I guess one can call them missionaries to the churched/de-churched. I’ll use this as a case in point:

    http://crossroads.sks.com/content.asp?CustComKey=283534&CategoryKey=286676&pn=LinksInt&domname=crossroads.sks.com

    This is the testimonies page from Grace’s college ministries (arguably one of their more dynamic ministries). Out of 16 testimonies, 14 come from clear associations with the church (broadly defined).

  2. pjtibayan says:

    Albert,

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t know why I didn’t respond to this earlier, but here is a thought. I think CHBC operates with a conscious mindset that their context in Washington DC is post-Christian. Many of the baptisms there and people I’ve met who got saved through their members did so from politics or university where they were not de-churched. If you define a church being on mission as those who “seek to incarnate Christ in other people’s lives or to be trained as missionaries” I’d say that CHBC does that without using all the missional buzz words.

    They seek to love their neighbors. They do good deeds that bless those around them. They seek to display Christ’s glory in their love for one another BEFORE a watching world of those who are both post-Christian AND de-churched. They won’t say their training missionaries, but they would say their training Christians to love God, love their neighbors, and share the gospel. Is that a church “on mission”? I think so, but maybe I’m missing something brother. Help me out.

  3. Albert Tsao says:

    This is indeed a much longer discussion. And, yes, you are right that “mission” needs to be carefully defined. I think the neo “missional” guys have helped define “mission” as much more than just “evangelism” and hence social justice is so often attached to it.

    Thus, when I think of loving God and loving people, I think the new streams of “missional” are much more holistic than the old school evangelism folks (traditional evangelicalism).

    Also, I can say from personal experience because Amy and I spent over 18 months at Grace Church and our more than 10 years affliated with it through our prior pastors/teachers and through Grace on Campus. Doing good was NEVER tied together with “mission.” Mission was never associated with doing good. Doing good was never associated with evangelism. So, I would disaggree that the Grace folks (broadly speaking only through my personal experience) sought to love their neighbhors. Doing good for the sake of doing good just wasn’t there. I just never saw it. Sorry. I just don’t buy it. No one ever taught me that justice was central to God’s mission other than the fact that He was going to punish evil doers eventually, so we better repent.

    I agree wholeheartedly that the nomenclature isn’t important. However, I believe “mission” encapsulates a much broadly vision of life and the nature and purpose of God than simply evangelism.

    This isn’t meant to be a Grace bashing (I can’t comment whatsoever about CHBC). I’ll type up some more thoughts later.

  4. Albert says:

    I’m going to challenge a few of your statements a little bit:

    “I think CHBC operates with a conscious mindset that their context in Washington DC is post-Christian.”

    I can’t comment on CHBC, but there’s ZERO way that Grace Community operates with a “conscious” mindset that they are in a post-context. I’m sure there are some who did, but for the most part, I didn’t see it. If the leadership encouraged it, the masses certainly didn’t catch wind of it. The services were filled with insider speak (including many opportunities to make fun of Mormons, charismatics, etc. And, yes, I have been in attendance when the preacher cracked jokes at other lesser Christians with the entire congregation roaring with laughter), the fellowship and bible study times were geared primarily towards well read Christians; forget unchurched, most “Christians” have a hard time keeping up. I’m not saying everyone was like that and I met some outliers who made it their business to reach the unchurched, but they were outliers for sure.

    “Many of the baptisms there and people I’ve met who got saved through their members did so from politics or university where they were not de-churched.”

    Again, I would like to use the testimonies page from Crossroads as evidence. Most people being reached are from “Christian”/de-churched backgrounds. Nothing wrong with this kind of evangelism whatsoever. This is low-hanging fruit and every church should be engaged in it. Grace is really good at this sort of evangelism and much better than most. They thrive in this kind of engagement. The numbers just don’t demonstrate any concerted effort to reached the un-churched? Why, because in order to do so, one would have to meet and befriend the un-churched. That sort of activity just wasn’t expressedly encouraged. Did they evangelize the unchurched? Probably. But not in a concerted way.

    “If you define a church being on mission as those who “seek to incarnate Christ in other people’s lives or to be trained as missionaries” I’d say that CHBC does that without using all the missional buzz words.”

    I guess when I think of incarnational ministry, I think of on the ground, hands-on, loving people who are outcasts of mainstream society, Jesus-like ministry. That’s why relocation is so important to most incarnational ministry. Grace not only did not relocate, they relocated away from their church building. I know this is different from John Piper and Mark Dever who wants their pastors to stay close to their geographical target, Grace’s senior minister lives almost 45 minutes away. When I think about incarnational ministry, I like to think about Tim Keller’s quote, “If the church wasn’t here, would the neighborhood be worst off.” If Grace wasn’t there, I think the neighbors would cheer because all the parking issues would be gone. Just look at Panarama City. For a church of thousands, how much impact have they made there?

    So, I guess it depends. Sometimes it’s just buzzwords, other times, it’s not. It depends on one’s philosophy of ministry.

    “They seek to love their neighbors. They do good deeds that bless those around them. They seek to display Christ’s glory in their love for one another BEFORE a watching world of those who are both post-Christian AND de-churched. They won’t say their training missionaries, but they would say their training Christians to love God, love their neighbors, and share the gospel. Is that a church “on mission”? I think so, but maybe I’m missing something brother. Help me out.”

    Yes, I think you’re missing something. I don’t think their intentional behavior is to display Christ’s glory before a watching world. That would entail engagement with the watching world. I see them teaching their people to withdraw from the world. They are just not that engaged. If the schools in their neighborhood went to zero, it just wouldn’t matter to them because their children are already being homeschooled. Their interests aren’t with their neighbors whatsoever. They are taught not to really care about the physical welfare of their neighbors; that preaching salvation is the only thing that matters. Am I being extreme? Probably so. They sure aren’t rising up and starting charities and benevolent societies.

    I guess I would need you to define what you mean by “seek to display Christ’s glory in their love for one another BEFORE a watching world of those who are both post-Christian AND de-churched.”

    I absolutely agree with you and the buzzwords don’t matter. One doesn’t have to use “missional” or “incarnational,” etc., but I think the express big and deep thoughts – bigger and deeper ideas than simply “evangelistic.”

    Timmy Brister wrote a great post a couple of weeks ago:
    http://timmybrister.com/2010/03/24/tim-keller-deed-ministry-and-bridge-building/

    Grace is touching primarily 1 and maybe a little bit of 2. There’s no way that they are touching 3-4. I would say that the Hollywood Church is in the same boat. We’re trying to go to 3 & 4, but we’re pretty far from it right now. It really would take a whole different type of living to reach 3&4 and we’re not even close. Does deed ministry help? Sure, but it isn’t the entire answer.

  5. pjtibayan says:

    Albert,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. Lots for me to chew on here. I think the main place we’re passing each other is that I’m primarily thinking of CHBC with little exposure to Grace Church as an attender/member and you’re coming at it from the Grace Church side. I’ll grant that you know more about Grace than I do so I’ll concede them in our discussion. I think CHBC would be considered a church “on mission” on Chandler’s terms above.

    At CHBC I saw and was equipped in addressing non-Christians in preaching, the Sunday gathering, and other church gatherings; building friendships with other non-Christians over meals and dinners to love them, build friendships with them, and explain the gospel; I saw members love the families who’s fathers were in prison and make disciples of juvenile delinquents. We prayed regularly for the lost and for our culture (government, city, country, world). They encouraged living on the hill in the neighborhood.

    You wrote: “Yes, I think you’re missing something. I don’t think their intentional behavior is to display Christ’s glory before a watching world. That would entail engagement with the watching world. I see them teaching their people to withdraw from the world. They are just not that engaged. If the schools in their neighborhood went to zero, it just wouldn’t matter to them because their children are already being homeschooled. Their interests aren’t with their neighbors whatsoever. They are taught not to really care about the physical welfare of their neighbors; that preaching salvation is the only thing that matters. Am I being extreme? Probably so. They sure aren’t rising up and starting charities and benevolent societies.”

    Response: Maybe for Grace Church. Not CHBC. They intend to display the glory of Christ before a watching world. But that display is different than what you are considering missional. They are thinking primarily John 13.34-35 and 17.21 which is the love towards fellow Christians before the watching world that Jesus commands and prays for as a specific way of making Christ’s glory (his discipleship and mission from the Father) known. The interests of the neighbors are with some of the CHBCers as neighbors and not as the church as a church. That’s that fine distinction I’m stilling to get my mind around that has been made regularly (not only by CHBC but also by Carson in Themelios on this issue). So they don’t do deed ministry regularly as sponsored by their church, but they do it as individual Christians working with others to bless their neighborhood. Maybe it doesn’t get done as much as in your vision of church. That might be in part due to the fact that it isn’t widely pushed in the church to do as a church, but maybe also because it is just done less (which I suspect it is).

    Thanks for your thoughts, and throwing in what you observe at The HC. One of our homeless attenders has been gone for a month after months of attending and eating with us. Either he moved or something worse happened to him. I still need to ask some of the weekly employees at the rec where he went. Anyway, CrossView is a long way from this, but we’re clinging to God’s grace and seeking to move forward in pleasing him, being faithful to his word, committed to each other, and sensitive to our neighbors we seek to love and bless. Thanks for the exchange brother.

  6. Albert says:

    Great discussion. I think we are coming to an end of it. And you’re absolutely right that we’re kind of speaking past one another because of the different contexts we’re speaking about. If CHBC is teaching and leading their people this way, I praise Jesus for it. But I’m also not a Grace insider and it’s not fair for me to talk about what they are “trying” to do; I only see what I see and have participated in.

    Bottomline is that we’re in complete agreement. I personally don’t think it’s necessary to throw in the “missional” terminology. It’s just too confusing for people because then you have to redefine everything. It’s much easier to just allow scripture to speak for itself. This is the “practical” side of leading and shepherding people onto mission. As I lead my missional community of around 15 people, I have to constantly think about ways to teach my people how to love and engage their neighbors. Just simply telling them they need to be “missional” and “incarnational” isn’t going to cut it. They have to see what this is. So, I almost never use these words. For instance, instead of “incarnational,” I might talk about the need to relocate (I got this from John Perkins 3 “R’s”) like Jesus did.

    And I agree with you 1000% that the bulk of what we’re trying to do is for us to display God’s glory PRIMARILY in the love that we have for one another. That implies that we MUST have a robust, robust community and we’re not afraid to share it. That also implies that we have to be engaging and being around those who are far away from Jesus and introducing those folks to our community, sometimes to our “events” and sometimes just to other people.

    The HC and my missional community is far from where we want to be. Our community is new”er” and we’re still getting to know one another. “Deed” ministry is coming along. But we just hammer this stuff in, week-in and week-out. We intentional create opportunity to bless and celebrate with one another. We believe that understanding and living out the one anothers is THE critical element of being a church on mission.

    At this point, I think we’re more “attractional” missional than “incarnational” missional, but that is literally changing by the week. We’ll see where God leads us here.

    Good diaologuing with you, brother and glad to continue seeing how God’s grace is renewing your people.

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