Friday, September 29, 2006

The local church and the sent church

Do you remember the days when missions in local Baptist church life consisted of collecting three special offerings per year and giving a portion of the budget to missions through the Cooperative Program? Remember when we trusted the "professionals" to do missions for us?

Perhaps I am exaggerating to make a point. But - you know what I mean. Many Baptist churches did missions vicariously. It was a 20th-century model that served us well in many regards. However, those days are over. The fundamentalist juggernaut that rolled through the Baptist family has forever changed the denominational landscape. Other factors contributed to the sweeping changes we have witnessed in the past 25 years as well. For many Baptists, the root system of the Cooperative Program (namely, trust) has been destroyed as we have seen too many bodies strewn along the road on the path to power and control.

As difficult as it all was to watch and experience, God remains enthroned and the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains empowered! God is raising up a different kind of local Baptist church in this generation. Many of us in the local church setting are embracing the changes and sensing the movement of God's Spirit among us.

What I am witnessing and experiencing is a revival of the doctrine of ecclesiology specifically as it relates to missiology. At the core of this discussion is the question: How does the local church relate to the sent church?

I would suggest you read Patrick Johnstone and Ralph Winter for helpful and wise insight in this area. I am finding myself studying Acts and the letters of Paul searching for clues to assist me as I lead my church to become increasingly personally invested in the Great Commission. Churches across the world are addressing this issue. I am encouraged by what I see and the conversations I am having in this regard. More and more churches are stepping up to the plate and sending missionaries, teams, businessmen/women across the world in the name of Jesus Christ.

I believe a new wave of missions is forming out in the sea of the not-to-distant future.

What do you think?

- Dennis R Wiles


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