The church exists for those who aren't yet a part of it...
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus commends Peter’s faith as the kind of faith that He will build HIS Church on in such a way that the very gates of Hell will not be able to withstand it. In this passage Jesus reminds us of two important principles that we must embrace if the church is going to “move to the edge.”
The first principle is that the church belongs to Jesus.
You don't have to be around church people long before you start hearing the phrase, “My Church.” Generically speaking we all understand what people are saying, “This is the church I attend or am a member of.” The other side of the meaning comes out though when some sort of change is introduced into the church. Soon you will hear the phrase, especially in the church parking lot after the Sunday service, “We’re not about to do that at ‘my church.’” Possessive takes over and produces entitlement!
We, the church, must be willing to surrender the church back to Jesus and live in the tension of the fact that indeed the church does belong to Jesus – He called it out, He died for it and He will come once again to gather it unto Himself – and in the very next verse He gives the very keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to his followers and tells us it is up to us!
"We must be willing to live in the tension that the church does indeed belong to Jesus and the fact that He gave His followers the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and told us it is up to us!"
The second principle is that the purpose of the church is to invade the very gates of Hell!
When I envision this idea of invading the gates of Hell my mind’s eye goes to the HBO series, Band of Brothers. This mini series tells the story of Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army’s role in defeating Germany in WWII. As I watched this series unfold it hit me how an army reflects not only what I believe is Jesus’ purpose for the Church but how the Church should function as well.
Armies exist for a mission. In WWII, Easy Company was a small part of a larger force that was sent to defeat the repressive Nazi forces. During their existence, Easy Company engaged in many battles including the D-day landing on Normandy, The Battle of the Bulge as well as the liberation of a concentration camp near Landsberg.
The Church exists because there is a mission – God’s redemption of Man. The local church, though a small force within the mission of the Church, exists to be the frontline force in this battle between heaven and hell!
To effectively engage in this mission a church must be willing to live in the tension between the fact that Jesus never intended His Church to become localized safe places for his followers to gather and as a frontline force, the church must provide the support needed for His followers to be successful. Think about it this way, a church like an army must…
Churches that stay at the center become safe places for their members to gather. A church that moves to the edge will not only will engage the gates of Hell but also provide the resources, processes and systems needed.
For the past thirty-nine years Wayne has served the Church in local churches ranging in size from 50 to 4,500, in two denominational roles as well with an international missions organization. Through these varied experiences God has developed in him a deep passion for His Church and the leaders that lead her.
Wayne’s calling is see the re-missionalization of the Church in North America! MORE>>