ASIA (BP) — God chose the church to be His messenger and make a powerful impact on the world. It doesn’t matter if it has 10,000 or 20 members; a church is called to reach the nations with the Gospel. The International Mission Board asked pastors, mission and mobilization specialists around the globe to give some insights into what makes missions-centered churches. They boiled it down to eight traits that indicate this type of congregation:
1. Has a NOW mentality.
The thought of “being in on what God is doing right now” drives this church. They understand most generations before them have not had the opportunity they have today to go to the nations. Not only do unreached people often live in their communities, but global travel is relatively easy now. They can go to India and back in less than a week. They can actually meet the last unreached people groups (less than 2 percent Christian) on earth, not just see their pictures in a magazine.
2. Is in it for the long haul.
Rather than asking, “What fits my church?” a missions-centered one asks, “What needs to be done and where?” They are awakened and consumed by worshipping God and making Him known to all peoples. No matter if the God-given task takes one day or 20 years, they are committed. This collective burden is met with a sustainable plan.
3. Has cheerleaders.
Note the plural. Not one cheerleader but many! Yes, the pastor may lead the way but what happens if he moves to another church? Does this stop a missions-centered church? No! There are other leaders invested and sold out to the vision. They are the mobilizers—point people. A missions-centered church knows that it will be no more engaged in missions than its leaders.
4. Spends time on their knees praying TOGETHER.
They are ready to tackle spiritual warfare head on. The thought that no other church in the world is praying for a specific unengaged, unreached people group really matters to them. They know that it is their responsibility to come up with a church-planting strategy where none has been done before. They believe that starts with prayer.
5. Is flexible and steadfast.
The phrase, “we’ve never done it that way,” spurs the missions-centered church to break the mold. They strive to be creative, knowing that trends and needs may change but the basics remain the same—sharing the love of Christ and bringing people to Him.
6. Trains and equips.
There is an intentional equipping of the church to live out God’s mission plan. The congregation is discipled in God’s passion for the nations. They are hungry for training in evangelism and strengthening local believers. They pass their knowledge on to others, teaching what they’ve learned along the way.
7. Networks with others.
Understanding that they don’t know everything, missions-centered churches are great networkers. They are aware of others involved in similar projects and readily seek advice. These relationships create a unique synergy that leads to increased effectiveness and a greater impact on the people they are trying to reach, whether that’s locally or globally.
Churches focused on the lost try to plug into the life of the world around them. They understand that being sent isn’t a future event or even an overseas calling. Being sent is a book of Acts lifestyle—a way of living—the way of Jesus.
There are still more than 3,000 people groups with no one intentionally working among them to see churches planted. The missions-centered church will roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty for Jesus. This kind of church will ask God to use them no matter the cost.
Are you part of “this kind” of church? What’s it going to take for your church to be missions-centered?
This article appeared in Baptist Press.