Pastor Smith has been a church leader and leading a small church in the city for 25 years. He has been faithful to do what he believes God has called him to do diligently. In the beginning of pastoring his church he saw some growth in the amount of attendees. But, after that short season he has had a steady 40-60 people attending. Pastor Smith feels stuck. He has focused mostly on pastoral care and bible study during the years and is doing a good job at it. As a church leader, have you ever felt like Pastor Smith? Is there a better way? Why does your church exist?
Do you believe your church exists to transform your region?
Your understanding of why your church exists is crucial to the way you build your congregation, form your outreach teams and plan the church’s steps into the future. Consider the following questions:
- Is your church meant to be impactful in your community and region? How?
- Do you know the specific sphere(s) your church is called to influence?
- How will you work with other churches in your region to produce positive impact in your area?
Every church is called to bring regional transformation according to the divine “blueprint” they received from God’s hand. Some churches are called to minister to drug addicts or those who have been sexually abused. Some churches are gifted in knowing and sharing God’s love. Other churches are teaching communities that love God’s Word and know how to raise up others to love His Word, too. Whatever blueprint God has given your church, it will be specific to your congregation, but it will also reflect God’s overall purposes for His Church, because there is only one Church and it has many congregations. All of us are working together to see God’s Kingdom come and His will be done as it is in Heaven. That, at its core, is God’s apostolic blueprint for your region.
How do you begin to walk in your apostolic calling as a church? First you need an apostolic vision. Ephesians 2:20 says the Church of Jesus Christ is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets, with Jesus being the chief cornerstone. The literal meaning of the word apostle is “sent one,” or someone who is commissioned as a fully authorized representative of the sender. An apostolic vision goes beyond the doors of a single church to include regional impact and beyond. It sees the big picture. Understanding the importance of being “sent,” it raises up, trains and sends out new leaders and ministers—because one of the main apostolic purposes of Heaven for a local church is to transform the region it’s in.
You are here for regional transformation.
Regional transformation is one of the key reasons the Body of Christ exists. When Jesus asked His disciples who they believed He was, Peter stood up and said, “You’re the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus’ reply has since become one of the most famous passages in the New Testament, and it reveals the Church’s purpose:
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
— Matthew 16:17-19
It takes a person to carry a message—but it takes a message to empower the messenger. The person and the message must be connected. So we could actually read the passage this way: “On the person who carries the full message of God for a region, Jesus will build His Church.” We are here to transform. We are called to gather together, hear the Word of the Lord, experience His presence and then go out into the region to institute God’s blessing within the marketplace, government structures, neighborhood organizations and every other place. We are called to bring transformation to our regions because the Spirit of God dwells in us. When we understand why the church exists, we start to get a different perspective on “doing church” and how we can bring Heaven’s blessing to our regions.
You are here to do what Jesus did.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus told people what He was about to do. He read aloud a portion of the following passage:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
— Isaiah 61:1–4
In this world we are like Jesus (1 John 4:17), and amazingly enough, we will do even greater things than He did (John 14:12). From an apostolic standpoint, this passage in Isaiah 61 speaks of three primary things every church is called to focus on: souls, saints and spheres.
- We are here to reach the unreached for Christ. We bring good news to the poor and heal the brokenhearted.
- We are here to equip believers.
- We are here to restore “ancient ruins.” This means we take what is broken in our society and start renovating. We help people and spheres find their way back to the purposes for which God created them.
No matter the specific “blueprint” God has given your church, everything you build as a pastor will interact with at least one of the principles contained in Isaiah 61:1-4.
Many of us have come to think of the church as a safe place and refuge from the world. We think from a defensive position—but that is not why we are here. Remember, the word church means to be “called out.” But we are not called out so we can hide! We are called out as leaders to bring positive impact and direction. In Jesus’ time, the word church meant those who were called out to the city gates to make decisions that would benefit the community. We have the same calling.
Another important aspect of apostolic impact, full-time ministry, is built into our relationship with the Lord. Every one of us is called to follow Jesus full time, bringing salt and light with us wherever we go. Though most believers will never make their living off a church’s income, all of us are called to be “ministers” in business, education, government, culture, entertainment and the arts, etc. As salt and light, we are here to bring God’s pervading presence and purpose into every aspect of society. That is apostolic impact at its finest.
At Pastor’s Coach, our goal for you is to increase your understanding of what the church is, what the Kingdom is and how it relates to the church—so you can bring Heaven to earth and raise up a congregation of mature men and women who can mightily impact the region around you.