As we begin to think of the heart and scope of the Gospel and embracing a missional understanding of the church, the ramifications for the local church will be subtle but significant. We begin to think of our local church not simply as a place where people settle and have their spiritual needs or preferences satisfied. Of course, I am not saying that there is not a time to settle and focus inwardly on our perceived needs, but rather, this is only a step in the continual journey of being sent to restore and reclaim and is not the desired end result or what defines our success. What we measure begins to change. We recognize that our spiritual needs are often best met as we are “going” or living out the “sentness” of losing our life or not settling in the comfort of having a place to lay our head (Mat. 8:20, 10:39).
What are some of the implications for how the church functions? If we embrace the concepts of all being sent and being incarnational, then ministry will come from the bottom up, not the top down. Decisions on ministry “programs” will not just come from the pastoral leadership team with the administrating, organizing, recruiting and implementing of ministry programs coming from the top leadership, staff, or a small group of volunteers. Rather, the posture of ministry programs begins to change and develop as those in the congregation are sent in their particular context and with the particular passions that God has stirred in them. The Pastor, staff and leadership then come alongside those as they are being sent, providing resources of time, energy, insight, training etc. The administering and organizing of the church is less centered on pastoral leadership and hierarchy than it is on the laity discerning where The Spirit is sending them to represent the heart and scope of the Gospel. Leadership becomes focused on relationships and discipleship, empowering and encouraging the congregation to discern where they are sent to bring Shalom, how they are sent on Mission with God.