Think of the theological distinctives as the foundation for everything that happens in the church. These pillars support everything we do and influence how we approach every ministry opportunity in the future. Once we have established the foundation we need to build on it with an intentional strategy for ministry. What will the ministry direction look like?
We’ve chosen to summarize our ministry strategy using four participles. This shows that these four actions are never fully completed, but we continue to build and work until Christ returns. This is our missions mandate and everything we do must be geared toward fulfilling this mandate.
Being a healthy church means fulfilling the commands and directives given to the church in the Scriptures. Ephesians 4:11-16 provides the blueprint for what church ministry should look like. God has given the church the gift of pastors/teachers. The primary function of a pastor is the equipping of the saints. Pastors are to give themselves to prayer and the study of the Word so that they can equip the saints for Word-based ministry. Ministry happens as one believer brings God’s Word to bear on the life of another. Christians should speak God’s Word to one another and help one another live out and apply God’s Word. When this happens the body will grow to maturity.
Making disciples of Jesus Christ and maturing them will only happen when our church is healthy. This means that evangelism is not the end goal. The great commission found in Matthew 28:18-20 does not end with evangelism. The single command given in the passage is “make disciples” and the going, baptizing, and teaching explain how we go about making disciples. Every believer bears the responsibility to be making disciples. A fully developed and mature disciple is one who makes and matures other disciples.
2 Timothy 2:2 makes the priority of training future leaders abundantly clear. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” There are four levels of training taking place in this verse. We have received the message from others, then we pass the message along to other faithful men who in turn give the message to others. The training of future leaders can only take place in a church that is healthy and which is making and maturing disciples.
Once these faithful men and future leaders have been trained in a healthy church environment, we send them out to pastor, plant, and train others. The goal is not to keep these individuals in our ministry but to fulfill the great commission by sending them to the ends of the earth. In the end, these people go out and plant indigenous, self perpetuating local churches and the circle is complete. We are not just about winning individuals or building institutions, we are about a disciple making missions movement.