The building blocks of our mission
By Mike Augsburger
Have you ever heard of an identity crisis? Of course you have! We are living in a world of identity crises. Just this week, I heard of a middle school somewhere in the United States specifically for (supposed) gender-neutral kids.
Think of that: an entire school dedicated to those struggling with gender identity. I’m not sure how radical segregation syncs with no-questions-asked inclusivity, but that’s for another post!
The person sharing this with me also pointed out the fact that this school has unusual levels of mental illness and suicide. Why? Because confusion about identity truly does create a crisis, hence the term, “identity crisis.”
Local churches have no need for an identity crisis. Our identity has been stamped on our corporate souls by the Lord Jesus Christ. In him, we are redeemed, righteous, and redirected.
Matthew 28 provides our mission of making more and better disciples. That is our mission and identity, but what does it look like specifically in our context?
This was the point of the Pillars sermon series. What is the DNA of Soteria Church? What would cause us to not be “us” anymore?
If you described to someone the core convictions of our church, how would you describe them? Lord willing, you would use our pillars to describe our DNA.
We have moved on from our Pillars series and are headlong into our series of 1 & 2 Thessalonians! However, it’s never a bad idea to do a retrospective look at what we learned.
#1: We are a church that loves God’s Word
This pillar is first for a reason: everything else flows from this one. As believers, we are born from the Word, formed by the Word, and matured through the Word. All of our marching orders flow from God’s Word.
Wouldn’t most churches say they love God’s Word? Probably. So what are the marks of a church that really loves God’s Word versus a church that only gives lip service?
In order to love God’s Word, we must believe it has the power to change lives. Therefore, our preaching and teaching will consist of explaining God’s Word verse-by-verse.
The restaurant Panera Bread boasts of premium coffee. As a coffee connoisseur, I can tell you it’s anything but “premium.” They can say whatever they want, but the truth is in the taste.
Likewise, a church that says they love and preach God’s Word, yet most of their sermons barely scrape the surface of Scripture and fill time with stories and cross references, is not actually serving “premium” teaching of God’s Word. You don’t love the Word if you deny its power.
When we say we love God’s Word, it will be evident in the priority of God’s Word in our services, in our discipleship, in our growth groups, in our children’s ministry, and in our church planting efforts. Without Pillar #1, everything else crumbles.
#2: We are a church that loves God’s people
The reason we love God’s people is because we love God’s Word. God’s people are birthed from God’s Word. Therefore, the Word makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family, and because we are family, we love each other.
Now, the way we love each other will be driven by the Word. We love God’s people in that we seek the greatest good for each other. We love each other by showing up for corporate worship and for growth groups. We love each other by confronting sin in each other’s lives.
The word “love” is used and abused by the world. It does not mean sheer acceptance. That is the opposite of love. Therefore, when we say we love God’s people, we are expecting it to be difficult, come with sacrifice, and in some cases, be downright painful.
Additionally, love for our community should grow out of love for God’s people. One of the best testimonies we can have to a watching world is to show what true unity and reconciliation looks like. The best way to love those outside the church is to excel in loving those inside the church.
#3: We are a church that loves God’s presence
By loving God’s Word and God’s people, we are put in touch with God’s presence. You see, the Christian life was never meant to be an individual sport. It’s the ultimate team sport.
Everybody knows I love football. Generally, I dislike fall because it’s a harbinger of cold weather. However, football redeems fall to some degree. It is impossible for someone to play football alone. You must have a team, and you must have a team to play against. Likewise, it is impossible to say you love God’s presence and fail to gather around God’s Word with God’s people.
How can we experience God’s presence? By passionately reading, singing, and speaking God’s Word to each other. What good is a finger disconnected from the hand? Our connection to Jesus’ presence comes through his body, the Church.
#4: We are a church that loves God’s mission
Because we love God’s Word, people, and presence, we should naturally desire to bring others into that same joy. This is the mission Christ gave to us. As those who have been rescued (and therefore are grateful), we should seek to extend that rescue to others.
Discovering a new restaurant is always an exciting experience. Sometimes you’ll stumble upon a hidden gem and think, “Where have you been my whole life?” Yet, that experience is not complete until it is shared with someone else.
The joy goes unfinished until you can tell someone else, “You have to try this!” Taking that a step further, the joy is less than satisfactory unless you can go to the restaurant with your friend and enjoy it together!
Such is the case with loving God’s mission. The motivation for God’s mission is treasuring Jesus. If you treasure Jesus, you want others to treasure Jesus. Not only that, you want to treasure Jesus together with another person. This becomes the basis for engaging in a Bible study with an unbeliever or inviting them to church.
We are one of many good churches in our community attempting to decrease the lostness of Des Moines. Our passion is to fulfill the Great Commission in an environment that teaches people to love God’s Word, people, presence, and mission. Not only do we want that to be true of us, but we want to plant churches that share the same values. Pray that God will help us be faithful to the task he’s given us!