(Continued from previous post…)
Third, a local church should catalyze missional-minded community. Snyder suggests three aspects that enable a church to keep a missional focus. He states that a congregation should first find its identity in worship because the basis of the existence of the church is to glorify God. Second, he suggests that a congregation should stress community as the means by which the church exists, as a people in communion with God. Third, Snyder recommends that a local church should continually practice its witness because sharing God with the world is the essential role of the church. To the degree that a local congregation or its leaders lack any one of these three elements they will fall short of their reason, their means, or their role of existence.
Missional-mindedness is a theological principle that acts ecologically. It is a question of environmental architecture. Does a local church exhibit healthy worship, community and witness? Are the subgroups within an organization pursing and partnering in the same purpose for being? Ultimately, the success of a local church must be defined according to its ability to biblically answer the question “Is the church growing?” Some congregations and leaders would tend to answer this question numerically, thereby defining the success of leadership based upon the perception of the number. Biblical patterns, however, define success according to a balance of worship, community and witness all based on a significant depth of heart for God.
Ephesians 4:13-16 teaches that a church is deemed successful when its independent units are integrated towards living for Christ. This allows for a certain amount of fluidity within mission that adapts for differing seasons of ministry and diverse paradigmatic circumstances. A new church plant in an urban setting might have a different priority of focus within the overall mission of a local church than a multi-generational established suburban congregation or a multi-site networked church of cell groups. As Stevens and Collins have pointed out, no matter the circumstances, the constant consideration involves the identity and ultimate mission of the church. For this reason, they suggest, the leadership of a church will be accomplishing its goals of raising-up others when it creates an environment expressing the following components:
· Growth into unity
· Growth into maturity as a community
· Growth into individual theological maturity so the members are able to distinguish truth from error for themselves
· Growth in love-motivated truth-speaking
· Growth in dependence on Christ as the head of the church
· Growth in mutual enrichment.