Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Reflecting On Our Community's Sense of Mission

Our stated mission statement since 2001 has been (posted on our website, for example):

“To see a church within walking distance of every person in Las Vegas.”

“To see a church-planting movement in every major US City.”

Those haven’t changed. Our understanding of them has.

Those are statements about our mission. Our Apostolic mission. We used to call this the “A” of our “DNA.” A is the third letter in DNA, though. DNA must start with D (Divine Truth). Another way to describe the D is: being loved by our Father, passionate for him, intimate with him. Both as individuals and as communities. If we’ve lost our sense of mission (A), it stems back to our passion, hunger, desire, love for our Father (D).

Once we’re loved intimately by our Father, we begin loving others. The book of John and the book of 1 John make this point rather clear. This is the “N” part of “DNA” (Nurturing Relationships). We live out the one anothers in our community. We love because we are loved. Our love for Father naturally spills into our interactions with one another. We become communities that literally live out Romans 12:9-21 (and every other one-another section of the New Testament). We are unusual in that we live this way. It makes no sense to those around us trying to get ahead and be first.

Only when our awe of being loved by our Father spills over into our relationships with one another will be see the fruit of mission. Then it will also spill over into our relationships with people who don’t follow Christ. Then we will see churches multiply across Vegas until there is one within walking distance of every person in Vegas. Then, as we rub shoulders with people in other places, and sometimes get scattered to other places, will we see a church planting movement in every major US city. If it’s not happening, it goes back to our D.

Our vision still is DNA, it sill is a church within walking distance of every person in Vegas, and it still is a church-planting movement in every major city. But we don’t get there by focusing on our A strategy. We don’t get there by plotting on a map where our next church plant will be. We don’t get there by presenting grandiose dreams from a stage. We don’t get there by having a clever strategy. We get there by passionately, intimately, and continually focusing on our Father, with a deep desire and constant hunger to know him more both as individuals and communities. If anything stops us, it may be our spiritual apathy.

In Acts, the Church at Antioch is our example. In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers (Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manean, and Saul). While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas & Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” That’s Acts 13. What follows, Acts 14-28, is the Apostolic mission, the A. They saw churches spring up all over the known world. It all started with their D (described as “worshipping and fasting”). And so it will be with us.

I would humbly suggest that if we feel we have lost our sense of mission (our A), what really has happened is that we have lost our spiritual hunger and passion, (our D). One flows from the other. If we are dissatisfied, we will only find satisfaction by passionately pursuing our Father, both alone in our “closets,” and together at every opportunity we have.