Serving as leader of Global Ministries for two local churches over the past 8 years, I have been asked many times to describe the process of leading a church to embrace the world for Christ. Often, pastors and church leaders desire to lead their church to missionality, but feel they have no idea how to get there. I began giving great thought to this process a couple of years ago while preparing to speak at a West African Summit for the International Mission Board. My assigned topic was Mobilizing My Church. I was forced at that point to analyze the maturity process my churches had gone through to get to a point of being missional. I hope to share a bit of that process with you in the next few publications of the GCPN Communiqué.
Learning is always about process. I, personally, am not a fan of process. Rather, I would prefer to leap to expert proficiency without going through the tedious journey that would qualify me to be there.
I remember being taught to snow ski by a “good friend” who felt that because of my natural athletic abilities, the best place for me to learn to ski was at the top of the mountain. I cannot describe to you the fear that paralyzed me as I stood at the top of that mountain, tracing the turns, trees, and drop- offs that prevented me from safety, warmth and hot chocolate that I knew lay somewhere beneath the peril of that icy pinnacle. Terrorized, I shouted at her in anger, “I cannot believe you have done this to me!” She replied with an un-repentant voice, “The only way to conquer a mountain is to take it a piece at a time. Just get to that first big Pine.”
So that is where we will begin in our exploration of this process -by getting to the first big Pine. But it is important to remember that spiritual journeys are not aimless wanderings. We are not nomads. We are pilgrims. The goals of our journey are determined by the Lord Himself and will always serve to glorify Him.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus portrays the product of our faith journeys as fruit. He compares good fruit to bad fruit. He talks about the pruning processes necessary to produce good fruit. He encourages us to remain in the vine that cause us to produce the only fruit that counts. With his image in mind, let us consider the goals (fruits) of the missional journey for our churches.
I believe there are three primary fruits that Christ is seeking through His Commission to the church: saved souls, mature disciples and reproducing churches. Each of these fruits produces an orchard of its own. If these are the primary goals of the missional church, it would behoove us to explore the qualities of a tree that would bear such fruit. In the months that follow, we will explore the development of a healthy trunk from which the branches of sending can extend. What a variety of branches can be produced from one healthy trunk!
With that tree image in your mind, perhaps the GCPN logo will begin to have meaning for you. I encourage you with the words Paul used to encourage the brothers in Christ at Colosse:
. . .All over the world this gospel is producing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. – Colossians 1:6
– Cindy Wiles