Paul Johnson gives a great description for the mobilization of young Europeans to discover the lands beyond. He wrote "As Christopher Columbus said, men crossed the Atlantic primarily in search of gold. But they were also idealists. These adventurous young men thought they could transform the world for the better. Europe was too small for them - for their energies, their ambitions and their visions... the mixture of religious zeal, personal ambition and the lust for adventure which inspired generations of Crusaders was the prototype for the enterprise of the Americas" [A History of the American People pg3]
We are created to be adventurers. When God spoke life into our DNA to "increase, multiply, fill the earth, subdue" there was an accompanying spirit of adventure loaded into us.
Making sure our mission is clear, is essential. When we listen carefully to most young planters, they speak of how they are going to run a gathering - what kind of venue they have rented, who the musos are, who will run kids ministry...
But is that church planting? Each church plant needs to embrace the generic and the specific - the generic what all churches have as a base mission. The specific - what the Father specifically wants our plant to become / to do.
These are such large conversations so forgive my brevity - each church exists as a catalytic, strategic piece to "disciple all nations". That is a hugely exciting, expansive sense of mission. It is NOT to run a great gathering, OR to develop some cool programs, OR get a cool building OR to accumulate the floating mass who will make me look good in the short term. It is NOT to simply be a fellowship forum, spot to debate philosophies or trends OR a platform for social justice OR a political voice.
At its base, we want to see the gospel preached to bring every man, woman and child come into a living and vital relationship with Christ. We want to see them discipled then embrace the advancing of the kingdom. Every plant lives to be an example of the "kingdom come, your will be done"
But then, every church plant needs to have a clear sense of personal mission beyond that generic obedience. Just as the Lord spoke to the Ephesians church to change or they will have their lamp stand removed, so it is that every plant has a very specific and unique assignment. Here are some modern metaphors that may help.
We exist because, God has called us to be a:
1. Lighthouse to serve and empower the other churches in the area with a large light
2. Harbor to be a safe haven for ships to come to port to heal up, but then they get back to the high seas where they belong,
3. Hospital to be a community of healing - body and soul, so catalyze them back into their Jesus story,
4. Bootcamp to get the new recruits in and to ready them for their divine assignments,
5. Family to raise and release folks to multiply new communities, just like our children leave home to start new families - something desired and celebrated...
Lacking to define our mission clearly, is to call folks to a misty mission - one that will lead to frustration, miscommunication and often splits. In business terms, we are called to answer the 5 whys... Why are we planting a church?... Why?... Why?... Why?... Why? That should get us closer to clarity, which will lead to ownership and in turn lead to sacrifice.