The Church Exists to Equip and Send

 
The Great Commission
Image via Wikipedia

Mick Turner

Sunday Adelaja makes the cogent point that the church loses its potency and its direction when it fails to focus on its primary task of equipping disciples. He makes other good points as well when he says:

It upholds the kingdom by being the school, the equipping place, and the place of support for world changers. But our focus must remain outside, not inside. We are to go from the “school” into the world and bring the powerful kingdom principles to bear on its problems.

When Christians change the goal of the church and make it a place of conservation and escape rather than equipping and sending, we are working against the Great Commission. We are conserving crowds, not sending them out. We are hoarding kingdom resources, namely, people and their gifts. In many churches, God’s workers are in captivity. They are like prisoners and the pastors are the wardens.

We are not called to huddle inside the church sanctuary but to restore the kingdom of God to the world. But some Christians and preachers misinterpret the word ecclesia, the Greek word for “church,” which means literally “called out ones.” They mistakenly believe it means we are to be “called away from the world.” This is a grave error. Jesus said in John 17:15, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

Jesus knew clearly that the world, where true disciples are called to operate, was held under the sway of the evil one. That is why his prayer dealt not with withdrawal from the world, but with protection from the wiles of the enemy. We are not called out from the world but instead, are called out from its values, ethics, and worldview. Adelaja continues:

Our calling is to operate from a different and superior set of principles than the world we live in. The church is to train us to be Christlike, to embody Jesus and His principles, so that in everyday life we may operate from a godly perspective. That’s what the church is for. That’s why we come together on Sunday. That’s why we preach, teach, and worship together.

I find it especially disturbing that over time we seem to have created a “Christian subculture,” one into which far too many gifted followers of Jesus retreat and remain. This has been especially true in the Evangelical and Conservative wings of the church. Even the most cursory, superficial reading of scripture will make readily apparent the poignant truth that Jesus did not call us to wholesale withdrawal from the world. Instead, he called us to go into the world and get our hands dirty, just as he did when he took up the towel and basin and knelt before his disciples.

What has been significantly underappreciated is how Jesus changed the way his followers actually engaged life. He launched a movement that unleashed previously untapped potential in those who believed in him. He created an environment where his disciples began to believe the impossible and soon found out they were turning dreams into reality. His became a movement of dreamers and visionaries called and compelled to dream of a better world. He called them to touch the whole of humanity with his message of life and love. Theirs was a life of faith and a call to accomplish great things by serving humanity.

Think about it.

© L.D. Turner 2011/ All Rights Reserved

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