Missional Mobility

Most of our blog readers are already aware of this, but our church, NewBranch Community Church, is preparing to “go mobile” in March.  At that time, we will be transitioning from our current facilities to meeting in a local school. 

To read more about our plans for this transition, visit our website, but this post is not about those details, but about how our church can take advantage of this transition to be more “on mission” with respect to our ultimate calling of “making disciples of all nations for the glory of God”.  I’d like to keep this open-ended and add to it as time allows, but for now, here are two that come readily to my mind.

1. Kingdom Priorities

Where does the New Testament talk about the need for a church building?

Please let me know if you find a reference, because I’d like to know.  I’ve never found any Scripture that says you need to have a building to have a church.  The New Testament church is mentioned over and over, but there’s no mention of the importance of a facility….how large, how old, what color it should be, whether it should have a steeple, etc.  Let’s be honest, its just not there.

What IS in the Bible is all kinds of references about who the church is and what the church is to be about doing.  The Church is the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12), and it is a “holy priesthood and a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5).  And as the Church, we are called to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:18-20), and “be [His] witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  We also see in Scripture numerous references to how we are to love one another, pray for one another, edify one another, encourage one another, spur one another on to love and good deeds, etc.

So, followers of Jesus are to BE the church, and as the church, we are to be about kingdom business.  Kingdom business is all about gospel proclamation.  Sharing the gospel with those outside the faith and living with gospel-intentionality in the community to which He has sent us as “missionaries”.  Kingdom business is not about bricks and mortar, pews and pulpits, steeples and stage platforms.

Because we won’t have a permanent facility, we’ll have the opportunity to maintain kingdom priorities without the temptation to sacrifice evangelism and discipleship ministry at the altar of a mortgage payment.  I never want to be in a position of having to decide whether to make a mortgage payment or send a missionary their monthly support.  I don’t trust myself enough to make the right decision.

I believe the 21st century American church will have a lot to answer for in heaven.  I don’t have statistics readily available, but I certainly don’t want to be one of those pastors standing before the Lord some day having to answer for the millions of dollars spent on bricks and mortar, while a comparatively miniscule offering went to frontier missions and new church plants. 

2. Missional Officing

I don’t think “officing” is a word, but the point here is that if we are out in the community more during the day, then we’ll have more contact with those who need to hear the gospel.  Part of the drawback of us “pastor-types” having a permanent office is that it is far too easy to allow that office to be our anchor.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone (probably more so). 

Having a permanent office actually requires someone to be there.  After all, a church building that is always empty and a church door that is always locked can actually be a hindrance to missional activity.  What does that tell the person who comes in off the street looking for help?  So, if you have a permanent church office, then you really should try to have someone there as much as possible during the week.  In the absence of a permanent office, the pressure is off to actually have someone there, and the pastor is more available to be out in the community.

Unfortunately, with our current facility situation, I’m more likely to be found in my office than anywhere else.  I’m productive in my office…I can shut myself off from the world and buckle down to my “necessary” business at my desk.  The problem is, the moment I start to shut myself off from the world, is the moment I begin to fail to “be in the world”.  As a pastor, I need to be out in the community more, meeting with folks in the community, building relationships.  As long as I’m in the office, I’m not out in the community.

Our staff will be primarily “officing” out of our homes; however, we are trying to prepare to be intentional about spending more time in the community.  For starters, we’re meeting tomorrow for our first “mobile” staff meeting at a local coffee shop!  Commence the coffee brewing!

Can you think of other ways our “going mobile” can help us be more missional?

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5 thoughts on “Missional Mobility

  1. I like this idea but I do have one concern. I’m a little concerned that your second point about pastors being in their offices too much can be misinterpreted.

    First of all, we all know that according to Eph. 4 you guys are called to “equip the saints for works of service.” That is your primary responsibility. A big part of that is giving yourself to “the ministry of the Word and to prayer” like the apostles in Acts.

    Secondly, there is already a HUGE tendency for people in American churches to think that their pastoral staff are supposed to do all the work. I wouldn’t want the idea to get into our heads that you guys are out there in the community being missional so now I can relax a little.

    I don’t know if this is a huge concern considering the consistent emphasis being placed on missional living by the church leadership, but I just wanted to throw that out there for consideration.

  2. Great point Joe, and I’m glad you brought this up. I certainly don’t want to give our folks the impression that our church is being missionally faithful as long as the “spiritual hit men” (a.k.a. “the pastors”) are out in the community sharing the gospel. You’re absolutely right. This is not a one man show, and the Great Commission is a command to all followers of Jesus…not just the paid staff.

    Secondly, you’re also correct in that we want an Ephesians 4 kind of ministry where the leadership exists to equip, resource, prepare and challenge the saints to do the work of ministry. The saints (all of them) are the ministers, we (the pastors), are the “administers”, administering the programs and process of the church to enable the saints to do the ministry. Parenthetically, I’m reading a great book about this right now called, “The Trellis and the Vine”. Highly recommend it!

    That being said though, I wouldn’t be much of a leader if I didn’t lead by example. If I am expecting the flock to be out in the community building relationships and sharing the gospel with lost people, and I don’t intentionally look for opportunities to do the same, then I’m not much of a leader. I see the fact that I’ll be “officing” in coffee shops and libraries, and out in the community more, as an opportunity for me to practice what I preach, and role model missional living.

    Thanks for the opportunity to clarify!

  3. I love that our church has this as part of its DNA: ” I never want to be in a position of having to decide whether to make a mortgage payment or send a missionary their monthly support.”

  4. I think that part of the reason we (as a Christian country) are despised in other parts of the world is because of our gluttonous use of our resources. Beautiful buildings with stain glass windows and steeples. They are only used for a few hours on Sunday mornings and maybe Wednesday evening. They pay tremendous utility and janitorial fees to keep up building that’s only in use 4 to 6 hours a week.

    Working in tantem with Hebron Christian Academy, using the facilities when school’s out – what better use of God’s house (school).

    I am excited. This is an adventure.

  5. Josie – Great points. Actually in parts of Europe, the Church has been so focused on building impresssive buildings and cathedrals and so unfocused on reaching their culture and generation with the Gospel message, that the church buildings have essentially become museums…relics of irrelevance.

    That’s NOT what I’m interested in leavng as a legacy.

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