I believe a potential model for what a “Great Commission Resurgence” Church in the SBC might look would be my local church. I want to state up front that I am not the pastor, nor vision setter for my church. I joined this church when I moved to seminary because I believed that my own spiritual maturing would take place best at this church, though there are other great churches in the area and many that could be a model Great Commission Resurgence Church. When I say “model” GCR Church, what I mean is, if SBC churches looked like this, accompanied by the power of God, we would experience a true Great Commission Resurgence. I perceive that in other areas of Evangelicalism and even in some churches in our convention there seems to be the beginning of a great movement of the Spirit. I am no pneumatologist (not sure that is a word) but I have observed several factors common among the churches that are experiencing the beginnings of what might be a mighty movement. Those factors, or values, are an obsession for the glory of God, gospel-centeredness, a focus on the primacy of the local church, and a missional focus.
In order to proceed I must define these four terms. I think most evangelical churches would say, “yeah, we affirm those” but I think reality is much different.
- Obsession for the Glory of God in all things – what I mean by this is, that there is a strong sense in these churches of the sovereignty of God. And there is an understanding that the purpose for the work of the Church is that God would gain the glory and that all people would worship Him. In running after the Glory of God in all things, there is a passion for theology and knowing God. And in seeking to know God, there is a high priority placed on the sufficiency and authority of the Scriptures in shaping our worldview and our practice.
- Gospel Centeredness – among this movement there is a robust gospel for all of life, which makes sense of life. The gospel is not seen as the beginning of the Christian life (nor as a prayer with specific information prayed that gets you in) but as necessary for all of Christian life. It is as necessary for sanctification as it is for justification. It seems that all “evangelical” churches would say absolutely we are “gospel-centered.” In fact, whenever the term “Gospel-Centered” is thrown around in the SBC all say “amen.” However, I do not think we all mean the same thing as we say “amen” to Gospel-Centrality. There is so much more to be said here (and this may be the most vital of these 4 components) but for further understanding of what I mean check out Jon Akin’s series on the Gospel: part 1, part 2, and the conclusion.
- Primacy of the Local Church – in this movement there is a recognition that the Church is the chosen means by which God is doing His work in the world and it is the only “institution” that will stand the test of time. This does not mean that these churches do not cooperate with others, far from it in fact, but it does mean that they see the primary work of the church as central. That means they do no rely on others to do the work of the ministry, instead they equip their members to be missionaries, church planters, pastors, theologically trained, and so on. They may use other means to help them in these areas, but that does not mean that they shirk the responsibility that they have to train their members to do the work of ministry and mission. They do not consider it doing missions by cutting a check to a mission board; instead they want to be intimately involved in the work of missions by going themselves.
- Missional – This simply means that they view themselves as missionaries to their context. The goal of training their people is to train them to see themselves as missionaries to the culture they live in. And it also means they seek to further the mission beyond their city to other areas of the country and globe by raising up church planters. Since they believe in the primacy and power of the local church they see this as the best means of missions.
So with that as a backdrop, tomorrow I will explain how our church finds itself striving after these things and so making it a model GCR church.