This article is from Heber Ticas, senior pastor at Comunión De Gracia, GCI’s Sun Valley, California, congregation. Heber also is the national coordinator for GCI-USA Church Multiplication Ministries.
As I write this, I’m enjoying 80 degree weather here in Southern California. We’ve been having summer weather in the middle of winter for two months—it seems entirely out of rhythm! Sweaters have given way to t-shirts, and beach day is a real possibility.
In our everyday lives, rhythms are natural occurrences, and it’s no different in ministry. In both venues, the rhythms fluctuate from time to time as our surroundings change. And in both venues, the Spirit is at work leading us into what I like to refer to as “missional rhythms.”
In our individual lives and congregations, if we keep our “eyes of faith” open, we’ll see the Holy Spirit at work drawing people into communion with the Father, Son and Spirit. Because that is true, as individuals and as churches, living life on mission ought to be part of our continuing “ministry rhythms.”
In thinking about ministry and mission we often ask the How? question rather than the Why? question. Why should we live out the Great Commission in our daily rhythms? The answer is that doing so is fundamental to our God-given identity. In Christ, and by the Spirit, we are a sent people. Jesus said “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
From the beginning, God has been sending his people. He sent Noah to build an ark, Abraham to Canaan, Moses to Egypt (then the Promised Land) to liberate Israel. And now God sends his church to participate in his mission to the world.
The American church today has largely lost its sense of being a sent people. Western values tend to emphasize individual comfort and consumerism. Sadly, those values have infiltrated the church and it has become an exclusive community where its rhythms revolve around those already part of the community. Our friends are Christians; our social gatherings revolve around church functions. Although much of our personal daily rhythms are lived outside the church community, living missionally is not part of our daily rhythms. The result is a disconnect between the mission of God and the rhythms of our daily lives.
Hear this: no church and no individual Christian can “outsource” their calling to be a sent people. As a church, we are called to love, worship and learn together, and then live together on mission. Our rhythms as a church body need to have an inside-out orientation. Mission can’t happen inside the walls of the church only—we must live “outside the walls,” on mission. Here are some of the inside-out ministry rhythms that the congregations I’ve pastored and planted have learned to embrace:
- Gospel fluency: incorporating into our rhythms an understanding of who God is, who we are in Christ, and what he has done for us.
- Listening: Jesus listened to the voice of the Father. In the same way, we need to listen to the Word (Holy Scripture) and the Spirit. We also need to listen to each other and to the cries of those seeking refuge in his grace.
- Cultural engagement: We must live outside the walls of our church in order to be in tune with our immediate communities. This means engaging by seeking out and befriending (relationship building), and if need be, sitting at the well from time to time.
- Missional spaces: Our ministry rhythms must open “spaces” in which the congregation can be missionally engaged.
- Community: We must have multi-generational small groups where life is shared and the non-churched are welcomed into an inclusive, loving community.
- Celebration: Our Sunday worship service must be inspiring—a celebration of our inclusion in the life of the Father, Son and Spirit. We must have Spirit-filled worship and preaching that brings hope and expectation, motivating the body to invite their non-churched friends and family members into our inclusive, joy-filled celebration.
- Unity in the body: We must promote unity by celebrating the diversity within our congregation. This includes celebrating and honoring different ethnicities, races and generations as one in Christ.
As you know, CAD Director Greg Williams has declared 2016 the year of renewal in GCI-USA. Incorporating these missional rhythms into your congregation’s life will move you along the path to renewal. By shifting to more missional ministry rhythms, you will find a better inward-outward balance. Jesus is the Captain of this ship and he is all about sharing his life and mission with us, his church. Let’s embrace our identity and calling in Christ, and move into ministry rhythms that are aligned more fully with what our Lord is doing to fulfill the Father’s mission to the world.
Looking for resources to guide your congregation in a process of renewal? Here are two you may find helpful:
- The book Fusion by Nelson Searcy—a helpful resource that addresses the topic of assimilating visitors into active participation in your congregation.
- Reaching People from Building Church Leaders—a set of helpful articles on various topics: evangelism, hospitality, outreach, assimilation, etc.