Gather :: Grow :: Go
Our mission expects our members to reach every street with the good news of Jesus Christ. However, if the path or plan to accomplish this mission isn’t clear, frustration is soon to follow. We’ve talked about accomplishing some serious things these past two weeks. To accomplish our vision and live out our mission, we must have biblical strategy to follow.
Gathering: A Priority
One of the best, most Biblical activities we do at Bay Cities Fellowship is gathering to worship. Every Sunday, we prioritize a time to gather for worship. In the Bible, gathering for worship is both modeled and mandated.
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight (Acts 20:7).
Notice the details of this description:
- First day of the week
- Gathered together (to break bread)
- Listening to Paul’s speech
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
As you can see, the purpose for gathering even included encouraging each other for godly living. Our commitment to gather together is centered on this premise: we need each other. That may sound odd to you or make you feel uncomfortable, but please embrace this principle: we are better together.The first step in our biblical strategy is to gather together based on a model and a mandate. Secondly, our next strategy step is to grow, which is a biblical expectation.
Growing: An Expectation
As much as we believe in gathering, we believe that God expect us to grow as a church, both internally and exteranlly.
In Ephesians 4, Paul shares an extended description of how the church should properly grow. Paul states:
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
We find Paul’s teaching very helpful to describe how growth occurs:
- God gives the Church leaders
- Leaders prepare believers
- Prepared believers build up each other
Notice how long this activity takes place: until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Also, look at the purpose for this growth: To mature believers and to avoid doctrinal error. When growth like this takes place, Paul provides a wonderful, cohesive picture of the Church: we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
As the individuals grow spiritually and are equipped for ministry, a natural outcome should occur: external growth.
When we buy a plant, and properly water and feed it what’s the expected outcome? Growth. When you buy a puppy and you feed and take good care of it, what’s the expected outcome? Growth. When a local Church, made up of living, redeemed organisms live the way God expects us to, what’s the expected outcome? Growth.
When the gospel works to produce spiritual growth, believers should naturally work together “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Romans 1:5). Growth like this is clearly referenced in Acts. We find in Acts 6:7 that “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”
God’s eternal plan to save sinners should motivate the Church to share her faith. We have confidence that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). So, we pray for growth, internally and externally.
Our gathering and our growing work together to bring us to our final step. Our third strategy step is to go.
Going: A Lifestyle
To finish explaining our three-part strategy, we need to look further at what it means to “reach” every street. We want to provide some tangibility not only to help you understand what it means to “reach” every street but also to inspire participation. First, let me briefly address the idea of “going.”
The mission of God has always involved an aspect of going. God tells Abraham to go from where he lived to a new city of promise. God has Jesus go to earth, leaving His heavenly home, to fulfill the plan of salvation. Jesus tells His earthly disciples twice to go, once during His earthly ministry and then right before His ascension. However, as the plan of God is being fulfilled (Jerusalem to the ends of the world), what does “going” look like today? The “going” in Scripture was always a means to the end, not the main point. Today, our “going” has less to do with leaving our current places but more to do with owning our various spaces. Let me explain:
Blessed To Bless
In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul calls believers “ambassadors.” He states, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” Essentially, to “reach” means, “to leverage the gospel into people’s lives right where they live, work, and play.” We must recognize that “the church is wherever followers of Jesus are. People don’t go to church; they are the church. They don’t bring people to church; they bring the church to people. Thus, “life on mission is more intentional and more integrated. While the concerns of life (family, work, leisure) are pursued, they are part of a larger story being played out for the missionary. This story does not require around-the-world excursion to discover or to pursue” (Reggie McNeal, Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church).
This adjustment allows us to live in a way that we can naturally reach people right around us. As we understand that God uses us, as ambassadors, to reach others, then we will embrace our roles as missionaries sent to minister in our present context. When we do this, we live as if we are on a mission, namely, God’s.
Our strategy to reach every street, hopefully, is simple in both scope and process. These three steps–gather, grow, and go–work together and should feed off each other. To reach every street with the good news of Jesus Christ, we must follow our Biblical strategy. Would you commit today to gather, grow, and go with us at Bay Cities Fellowship?