If the focus of your church’s mission is something other than helping individuals become committed disciples of Christ, in whatever way you might say it, it is possible your church is not actually a part of the Church.
Mission and discipleship are intimately connected in a cyclical relationship where each one helps to perpetuate the other in their outward focus. The mission of the Church is a movement outward into the world to create disciples who turn inward toward Christ to be turned outward for the world.
The purpose of the Church, made up of Christ’s disciples, is to go out in order to bring individuals in; into a life changing relationship with Christ. This is the mission. This is Jesus telling us to, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). The mission is always pushing the Church outside of itself, to the cultural edges and intersections where the grace of God is already present but most individuals simply are not aware of it yet.
If our churches are to truly be effective, it will not only require us to be outside but also change our focus when we’re inside. The only way we can help those who are not yet aware of the presence of God’s grace is by being with them to help them experience it. Not simply telling them about it but living it with them. This helps individuals experience God’s grace in their lives now, today, but we must be willing to be on the outside to meet individuals there.
The journey of going out in order to invite others in so that they might be equipped to go back out is the work of the Church. Being outside where Jesus calls his disciples to go changes the way we spend our time inside. Having an outward focus during our times together inside the church keeps the mission always in front of us. It changes the way we do things inside the church because we expect those from the outside to show up. We begin to look at the things we say and do on the inside through the eyes of those not yet here, and then find ways to make those on the outside feel like they have been on the inside the entire time.
To help those who feel far away know they have been brought near through Christ, this is the mission of those who call themselves Christ’s disciples.