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What does a Mission-Shaped Congregation look like? What characteristics should a Mission-Shaped Congregation exhibit?

For some months now, Resonate's North American Regional Leaders have been wrestling with these questions. After brainstorming a list of important values and behaviors, Kevin DeRaaf wisely noted that, above all, each of these characteristics points to one thing: Mission-Shaped Congregations continually die to themselves.

It was a lightbulb moment in the conversation. In order for congregations to fulfill the mission of God, we must behave as Jesus did when he “made himself nothing” to fulfill the mission of God (Phil. 2:5-11).

Putting the words ‘die’ and ‘church’ in the same sentence often makes us quite uncomfortable. However, from the perspective of Philippians 2, dying is not synonymous with failing or closing or unhealthy. Instead, dying is about transitioning from an inward-focus on personal needs and comfort to an outward-focus on what God is doing in the community and how the church can join in this mission.

Not only do we each need to die to ourselves as followers of Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:20), we also need to learn how to die corporately to our wants and desires, for the sake of the salvation story God is working out through us in the world.

Peter Bush, in his book In Dying We Are Born, writes, “All congregations, even ones that see themselves as healthy, need to be prepared to die, to take up their cross, so that God can make them alive.” (39)  

As Resonate seeks to help churches discover God’s mission for their congregation, we recognize that this understanding is central to church renewal. We hope this resource can help you reflect on your how your congregation is dying to itself for the sake of God's mission. May God’s resurrection power be alive in us! 


We invite you to join us for a conversation about what this means for you as a leader in the church today and for your congregation based on the book:

Kalamazoo: Tuesday, August 14, 9-11am

  • Weather permitting: Flesher Field
  • Rain location: 3rd CRC 

Holland: Wednesday, August 22, 2-4pm

  • 2030 Harbor Inn St.

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