After surviving the last 10 years as a boy’s football, basketball and track coach, associate pastor, regional youth director, manager in two businesses, and pastor of a failed church plant, I’ve discovered a glimpse of what the New Testament church of our day should look like. When I refer to “church”, I’m not speaking of the organized institution, called Grace Community Church of Port Aransas, where I have the humble privilege to lead a group of amazing people. I’m speaking of the “CHURCH” Jesus birthed according to Matthew 16:18 (ESV), “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Read Matthew 16:13-20 for full context)
There are not enough words left in this article to fully unpack this scripture; however, I want to highlight one key point…Jesus said He will build His church. He didn’t tell Peter or the other disciples to build it. This is very pivotal when we look at later supporting verses found in Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV), And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Many believers know these verses as the “Great Commission”; however, we have limited them to enlist and empower missionaries to be sent abroad. Between Matthew 16 & 28, we have concluded that our role and purpose was to plant, build and grow “church” as we know it today. The modern context of church is expressed primarily in our buildings, detailed programs and elaborate ministries. In these final words recorded by Matthew, Jesus doesn’t command His followers to build the church, buildings or ministries. This was never our intended role; Jesus already built it upon the revelation of who He is as Christ.
The purpose of the church as we know it today is not to make more churches, but to make disciples. How we do this is not manipulating people to attend church, give them a catchy sales pitch in a club like atmosphere of euphoria, and finally usher them to buy into our plans and programs with a major life impacting decision sealed with a “repeat after me” prayer. We must understand Jesus gave us the framework to carry out His Kingdom plan.
He commissioned, “Co-Missioned” or better stated: “COmmanded us to go on MISSION”, and MAKE DISCIPLES of all NATIONS. Of course this is a little broad, and makes sense to think it was intended for the traditional missionary calling. Therefore, we look at Acts 1:8 where Christ states, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”. To put this in proper context for us…”we are commanded to go on mission, making disciples, first in our community, then region and finally all the earth”.
My heart for all churches, ministers and believers of Port Aransas and the Coastal Bend area is this… Let’s stop trying to compete, out shine and exhaust all our resources to build bigger buildings, larger ministries & programs, and ear tickling & crowd attracting services in a vain attempt to grow “our” church & kingdom. Instead, let’s us “BE the CHURCH” Jesus built by walking out His gospel plan. We all must be on mission with intentionality and purpose in our community, which is where ever we find ourselves during our day to day activities, being “salt” & “light”, making disciples of our Lord Jesus, the Christ. It is for this purpose I don’t call myself a pastor, but a “Missionary to a Generation”.
Are you ready to go on mission with me as I follow Christ, in our community, and making disciples? Will you be the church Jesus built?
James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”
*Published in the September 5, 2013 issue of the Port Aransas South Jetty newspaper. via Be the Church Jesus Built | Grace Community Church of Port Aransas.