The story of the Scripture is the story of God’s great mission. The story begins with creation. God created us, in his image, in order that we might oversee this world as his stewards. Instead, from our first parents on, we have turned our backs on his glory. We have rejected our calling and instead have worshiped and served the creation.
But God, in his infinite grace and mercy, has not abandoned us. He sent a redeemer, his Son, to become one of us and, in so doing, to begin to reclaim us. And when Jesus had conquered sin and death, completing his mission, he entrusted to us God’s own mission. He breathed on those first disciples and through the disciples at Pentecost on all of us. He said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. As the Father sent me, so I send you. You are to go and be my witnesses, beginning in Jerusalem and Judea, into Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world”.
The task of every local congregation like Cedar Springs is to take this mission to its own neighborhood first, in its language, in its own cultural forms in a winsome and compelling manner. Then we are to take this message to the tribes and people groups who have never heard it.
God calls us to communicate the story of God’s redemption to the world so that we lead people to a relationship with God and then teach them to do the same thing.
There are three stages to this process: the communication stage, the discipleship stage, exit stage.
The Communication Stage: God calls us to find ways tell his story in the language and culture way of the people. The message is timeless; the way we tell it needs to be adapted to the audience. Communication must be synchronous. That is, the people must be able to understand and accept the communication. We must not talk past them.
The Discipleship Stage: We know we are communicating effectively when we begin to have people responding to the gospel and following Jesus. Jesus did this with 12 people and formed the first “church”. So we are to gather the first disciples into an indigenous church that expresses the culture and form of the people, not Western church culture. Essentially, we are to plant homegrown churches in the community, led by the community.
The Exit Stage: This is critical. We are called to teach the early believers to replicate the pattern, hopefully creating a virtuous cycle. It is their task to take the gospel to their own people. We are merely the catalyst to start the process.