Every church has a mission. In fact, every church has the same mission.
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus produced a mixture of hope and wonder among the disciples. But as the disciples gathered on a hill, Jesus gave them the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations…” At this point, the mission was made clear. This is what the people of God were to be about.
The question all churches must answer is not: “What is our mission?” The question before each local church is: “How will we fulfill this mission?”
At The Village, the answer to this question stemmed through a prayerful process replete with robust dialogue.
As we thought about making disciples, we asked ourselves, “What does a disciple look like biblically?” “What are the attributes?” “The qualities?” “The actions and ethics?” Before we could figure out how to make disciples, we had to be sure we were all clear on what exactly a disciple is.
Our answer to this question needed to be both biblically faithful and useful in teaching. We felt that we could describe the essence of a disciple in four main categories: worship, community, service and multiplication. And we placed the condition of the gospel on each category. For instance, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is not simply a worshiper but one who worships by, because of and through the gospel.
At this point, the anatomy of a disciple looks like someone who is maturing in gospel-centered worship, gospel-centered community, gospel-centered service and gospel-centered multiplication. This gives us a picture of what we are trying, by God’s grace, to produce.
We then moved from a picture to a process, from a disciple to discipleship. The driving question we tried to answer here was, “How are we going to corporately facilitate this process?” There will be countless organic ways a disciple is formed, but what exactly was the approach we, as a church, were going to take?
In light of this question, we highlighted certain venues that specifically nurture each trait. Clearly, our discipleship is not neatly compartmentalized, and each venue bleeds into the next, but each venue provides something unique.
The trait of gospel-centered worship is nurtured in our weekend worship gatherings and Elder-led Prayer services. Gospel-centered community is nurtured in our Home Groups and Recovery Groups. Gospel-centered service is nurtured in the myriad of ministry teams available for the body. And gospel-centered multiplication is nurtured through our Sending Program, church planting residency, mission trips and various classes.
The picture of the disciple finally blends into the discipleship process. The question we tried to answer in this step was, “How does all of this work together?” Given our insights and approach, we landed on the following response:
- Gospel-centered worship is the fuel for discipleship—responding to who God is and what He has done in Christ.
- Gospel-centered community is the context for discipleship—the people you experience Christ with.
- Gospel-centered service is the overflow of discipleship—loving and caring for others, like Christ, in and outside the church.
- Gospel-centered multiplication is the result of discipleship—replicating the life of Christ in others.
Every church must determine how they will go about making disciples. No perfect approach or process exists. For all the strengths in any approach, there are undeniable weaknesses. A faithful church recognizes her limitations and presses into grace.