Plumb Line #1 - The Church Isn't An Audience - It's An Army

Our God is a sending God. He sent his best into the world to save us.

Our God is a sending God. He sent his best into the world to save us. Jesus is referred to as “sent” 44 times in the New Testament. After his resurrection, Jesus passed his identity on to his disciples: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

 

To follow Jesus is to be sent. Everyone who has received the Gospel of reconciliation is sent to carry that Gospel to others (2 Cor. 5). Every believer is sent

 

Why would it surprise us that God wants to use the same process in our church? 

It is not through our success that God saves the world, but through our sacrifice.

It is not through our success that God saves the world, but through our sacrifice.

He calls us first to an altar, not a platform.


God's way of bringing life to the world is not by giving us numerical growth and gain that enriches our lives and exalts our name. His way is by bringing resurrection out of death. As Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

 

The need for this kind of an approach is greater than ever. The “nones” in Western society (those who check “none” for religious affiliation) grow each year at an astounding rate. “Nones” don’t casually make their way back into the church because the pastor is engaging, the music is cool, or the guest services are Disney-esque. They have to be reached outside of the church.

 

In the future, we will likely see fewer and fewer megachurches competing for larger pieces of a rapidly shrinking pie. Those who want to “grow the pie” will have to reach people outside theweekend services. This means empowering believers in churches like ours to carry the Gospel outside of the church.

 

Are we sufficient for the task? Like Ezekiel, standing before the valley of dry bones (Eze. 37), we confess our inability, but we know that the Spirit of God can do through us all that he has determined.

 

The church is not composed of “those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith” (Heb 10:39, ESV). Instead of adopting a defensive posture toward the culture, trying only to hold on to what we have and protect it from the enemy, we must go on the offensive, sending out believers into the culture to besiege the gates of hel

Tower View Family: We must cease measuring success by “seating capacity,” and view ministry success as “sending capacity.”

Seating capacity is comfortable. It’s safe. But sending capacity is risky and frightening. Seating capacity makes the churches’ leaders look important. But sending capacity makes the mission—and Jesus—look important.

 

Shifting from seating capacity to sending capacity will entail a fundamental shift in how we think about the mission of our church. Jesus’ vision of the church—the kind of church that would besiege the gates of hell—did not consist of a group of people gathered around one anointed leader, but multiple leaders going out in the power of the Spirit. It’s a claim that very few of us take seriously: Jesus literally said that a multiplicity of Spirit-filled leaders would be greater than his earthly, bodily presence (John 14:12).

 

Can you imagine the power of a church in which ordinary members know what it means to be filled with the Spirit of God and led by the Spirit of God? What would this mean for us at TVBC? God’s plan to glorify himself in the church never consisted of platformed mega pastors, cutting-edge art, or expensive buildings.


There’s nothing wrong with any of those things in themselves, but... 

 

...The real power in the church is found the Holy Spirit moving through ordinary people as they carry his presence into the streets where we live, work, and do life.

That's our prayer for TVBC! Yes, we have lots of decisions regarding our future (staff, bylaws, etc. - God will see us through!) to make. But, in Acts, the biggest advances of the Gospel in the New Testament happened through ordinary people. Of all the miracles in Acts, 39 of 40 were done outside of the church. We need to expect that kind of ratio today, too.


Brothers and sisters, as a church at Tower View: Let’s pray we continue to focus on empowering and equipping those in our church for ministry. Everyone loves seeing attendance numbers grow, but I know that incremental growth won’t make a difference for 99% of the people in our city. 

We need to empower our people to multiply God’s power where they already are.

As Paul says, God “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph 4:11–12).

 

As pastor, I simply can’t reach people everyone where they are. You can. We can

 

God is calling us all to understand our role in his mission: To get off the sidelines and join him where he is already at work. It won’t be easy. It won’t be safe. But remember that the kingdom of God works on the principle of the harvest: we reap only as we risk; living comes by dying; gaining comes by losing.

 

We covenant around two values at TVBC: (1) We must do whatever it took to reach people in our area, and (2) we must follow the Spirit wherever he leads.

As pastor, I truly believe that the greatest movement of God in the TVBC lies not in our past but in our future.

As pastor, I truly believe that the greatest movement of God in the TVBC lies not in our past but in our future.

Throughout Scripture, we see that “past graces” are evidences that God wants to bestow future graces.

 

God does what he does not to preserve institutions but for the sake of the Great Commission. It’s all about the Great Commission. Our church--you--are in this church at this time for a reason. Don't miss that!

 

That means the best days of the TVBC are ahead of us. They have to be! There are still more than 6,000 unreached people groups in the world—many in our neighborhood! —and history cannot end until they have been given a gospel witness.

 

As we prepare for the future, times may seem changing and unlit at times, but if we cling to Christ, I believe we are on the cusp of some exciting works of God at TVBC. It is our moment to expect great things of God and then attempt great things for God at Tower View!



Conclusion

So, for the last three years, I have prayed three things for us at TVBC:


  • That God would continue to lead us in a re-awakening to the gospel;
  • That He would raise up the right leaders;
  • That He would lead us into a new era of sacrifice, faith, and efficiency for the sake of theGreat Commission.

Would you join me in that?

 

Joy to Be Your Pastor,

 

Darin Smith