To build mission-focused communities requires continued focused leadership in the local church. If we are to have integrity in our challenge to the role of para-church organisations, then we must continue to take a close look at ourselves to ensure that we are practising what we preach. Local churches have a tendency to drift towards a pastoral mode, taking their agenda from believers, rather than the lost.
During the last ten years of leading a local church based in South East London, we have transitioned the church to ensure that mission is the primary drive in all we do. As a consequence, to our delight, we are seeing increasing numbers of people saved, and while I would love to report that we are seeing people saved and added daily, we can say that we are beginning to see people saved and added every week.
To build mission-focused communities we need to continue to grow in our understanding of apostolic ministry. I heartily commend Dave Devenish’s book What on Earth is the Church for? - a must read. He brilliantly illustrates apostolic ministry on page 71, as not being a static serving of churches, but something where churches are caught up on mission together.
I love the passage in Romans 15: 23-24 when Paul says, “Since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and have you assist me on my journey there.” Already planning his next apostolic journey, Paul boldly suggests to a church he has never visited before that they should help him to get to Spain. We need to release and support those with clear apostolic gifting to help our churches to be pulled into the regions beyond our local reach. Our attitude should not be, “How can we be served?” but rather, “How can we serve?”