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Healthy Targets

Healthy Identity – Missionaries

Today I share the third of nine targets for healthy churches. The final aim under Healthy Identities is that of being missionaries.  Local churches are created as missionaries to the world. Every church is called to make disciples faithfully and boldly in her local context and to partner in mission efforts to make disciples of all nations.  Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he gathered his disciples and gave specific instructions.  The first is the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.  He instructed his disciples to go make disciples of all nations.  Disciples making disciples is the calling and pattern of every believer.  And the scope of our divinely ordered task is all nations.  Jesus elaborated on this imperative in Acts 1:8 where he sets forth a strategy of beginning in our direct community in which we live (Jerusalem), to concentrically moving out both geographically (Judea) and ethnically (Samaria), and eventually to the whole planet (to the ends of the earth).  The challenge that many churches often struggle with is turning inward in its focus.  Rather than intentionally reaching out and taking the initiative of purposefully proclaiming the gospel, they settle for taking care of the needs of one another and the building.  When this happens it quickly leads to plateau and eventually decline in baptisms, attendance and membership.  For this reason, it is important to see ourselves not as settlers but missionaries.  This identity can be expressed in simply crossing the street to share Christ with your neighbor as well as crossing the globe to take the gospel to another people group.  The thing all missionaries have in common is they go and they make disciples.  Let us encourage one another to be on mission and joyfully fulfill the command of our Lord.   – Dr. Gary Mathes