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Biblical Missiology

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Biblical Missiology

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Jeff Vanderstalt  2006

 

 Theology Matters

 

The Medium is the message

 

All of us are theologians and we are continually working out our theology – it is being demonstrated in how we live: (James 2:14-26 ). Our beliefs in God will be seen by what we do.

 

The expression of the church that you develop will be a demonstration of your theology. It will be both the declaration and demonstration of what you believe about God and His gospel. 

 

This reality is expressed in the incarnation – the word was not just an idea. He took on flesh and dwelt among us so we could see the glory of God in the fullness of grace and truth.(John 1:14 , Colossians 1:15-19 ). Jesus knowledge of the Father was not expressed in word only but also in deed.

 

We can say all we want about what we believe about God. We can be experts at articulating our Soteriology, Ecclesiology, Missionology, etc… but what we really believe will be heard and observed.

 

The preaching of the gospel is both declaration and demonstration of the Good News of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Whose Story is it any way?

 

We all approach Biblical Theology with a presupposition – The Bible is either the story of God or it is primarily the Story of Humanity.

 

If we believe it is the Story of God, then Jesus is the hero. He is the one to whom every part of the Story points. It really is All ABOUT HIM.

 

If we believe it is primary the Story of Humanity, man is the hero and every part of the Story points to him. Jesus plays a supporting role, but the story really is ALL ABOUT HUMANITY.

 

Your presupposition about the Story will absolutely shape your convictions about the Church’s mission and the embodiment of that mission in your culture.

 

Our presupposition is that this is God’s story and that it is all from, about, in, through and for Jesus.

 

THE MISSION OF GOD

 

A Biblically Missional Church doesn’t first ask the question, “What works best?” Instead it asks, “How do we best display who God is and He has done in and through Jesus Christ appropriately within the culture we are sent to?”

 

Our goal is not to convert people to Jesus and our church. Our goal is to see them converted to Jesus and His mission so they can BE THE CHURCH that truly declares and demonstrates the gospel in all of life.

 

Therefore our starting point in thinking through what our churches should be like is God. We were created as image bearers. The church is the display of the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10 ).

 

  1. God is MULTIPLIER

 

  • In the beginning God created…be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

(Genesis 1 ) – consider the plants, animals and humans (all with the ability to multiply)

  • The promise to Abraham (Genesis 12-13 )
  • The fulfillment in Jesus
  • The commission of Jesus – Make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20 )
  • The Church was created to multiply

 

  1. God as Missionary

 

God is both a pursuer and a sender

 

  • He pursued Adam in the Garden – The gospel was declared and demonstrated (Genesis 3 )
  • He sent Abraham (Genesis 12 )
  • The Father sends the Son
  • The Church is sent (John 20:21 )

 

If we are to faithfully declare and display good theology, we must plant and lead churches that have a multiplication and mission built into their DNA from the beginning.

 

This looks like:

 

  • Churches that develop planters
  • Churches that equip people to be missionaries in their context

 

THE CHURCH AS MISSIONARY AND MISSIONARIES

 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter  2:9 

 

The Church is called out ones (Ekklesia) and the sent ones (Ambassadors) of God. We are a new family with God as Father. We are a royal priesthood that extends the message of reconciliation to the world. A holy nation that is an alternative city within a city to give a foretaste of what the eternal city will be like under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. We belong to God and exist for His glory.

 

The Church doesn’t do missions. The Church is missionary and trains and develops missionaries for its context.

 

Missionaries must ask:

 

What does the Word become flesh look like in every cultural context?

 

What does the Good News (Grace and Truth of Jesus) look like in our cultural context?

 

Missionaries must identify:

 

1. The Barriers to the Gospel

  • Language
  • Practices
  • Misconceptions

 

What prevents the Gospel of Jesus Christ from being heard and seen?

 

2. The idols of the culture

  • What are the good things that have become ultimate things?
  • What are the functional saviours within the culture?
  • What false gospels is the culture buying?

 

What do people trust in to save them? What do they believe will make them significant, loved and secure?

 

Missionaries must:

  1. Enter into the cuture with the Gospel
  2. Develop culturally contextual forms of the Gospel  
  3. Identify and address the idols with the Gospel
  4. Show how the Gospel completes their cultural narrative

 

The forms and expressions that our Churches take on should be developed with a Missionary mindset.

 

There are identities and practices of the Church that do not change. But all other things MUST change in order to be faithful to the Gospel and the Missionary call of the Church.

 

Contextualization places the Church into a place of tension – to be both biblically sound and contextually appropriate.

 

“Contextualization is not giving people what they want. Rather it is giving God’s answers (which they may not want) to the questions they are asking and in forms they can comprehend… You must be radically like them and radically unlike them.

 

If you over adapt to culture it means you have bought into their idols. If you under adapt to the culture then you have bought too much into the idols of the cultre you are in (i.e the Church culture).” – Tim Keller

 

THE CHURCH AS MULTIPLIER

 

The Church is not effective because it can gather large numbers of people to it’s events. The biblically missional Church measures success in it’s ability to see people converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, committed to the mission of the gospel and equipped to live out the gospel in all of life.

 

If the Church is going to recover it’s missionary roots, it will have to effectively equip it’s people to be missionaries.

 

Called to Equip

 

“And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry.”   Ephesians 4:11-12

 

As you discern God’s will for a picture of the Church embodying the Gospel in your context (Community), remember your role – to equip the people to Be the Church on mission.

 

Many local expressions of the church are built around and upon one charismatic personality. And often the rest of the Church and the multiplicity of it’s gifts exist

To support and prop up the ministry of the one leader in these situations, the Church has a hard time imagining it’s self continuing on mission when the leader leader falls or dies.

 

The Biblical picture of the Church is one in which Jesus is the Head Pastor who will always be with us always, will never fall and has already conquered death. Every member of His body is absolutely necessary for the building up of the Church. The leaders are called to serve and equip the saints. And the gifts are developed to serve the building up of the church in a community or city.

 

The Leadership in a missional church regularly asks:

  1. What gifts have been given to this local expression?
  2. How are we effectively equipping our people to declare and display the Gospel through their gifts in our city(not just our gatherings)?
  3. How do we best serve the building up of the Church in our city/community with these gifts?
  4. How do we send more people out on mission?
  5. Who will plant our next expression of the Church?

 

The equipping Process

 

To think through the process necessary to equip people to be missionaries, imagine what it would take to lead a “native” not knowing the gospel to becoming a Church Planter.

 

Keep in mind you are always disciplining people – you are NEVER NOT disciplining someone – AND therefore you are always equipping in one way or another. You are either doing it intentionally or through people observing you and therefore learning. They will learn what it means to be on mission and what it looks like to be a missionary. Everything you do communicates what you believe about God, the gospel and the role of every person in His work.

 

Training in righteousness

  • Give people the same skills you need to do your work
  • Help them contextualize the gospel in their cuture (See Jeff's paper here)
  • Equip them to preach in word and deed.
  • Send them out to BE Church

 

 

Jeff Vanderstalt  2006

 

Founder – Church Planter of

Soma Communities world wide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 March 2015 17:05  

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