We can never really get at the goal of saturation if people’s lives aren’t continually being transformed into the likeness of Jesus.
I love pastors and leaders. Every time I talk to them and ask them what the mission of the church is, they all have an answer that is somewhere close to the commission Jesus gave us in Matthew 28. So, that’s a good sign. The problem for us as pastors and leaders isn’t whether we understand the mission of the Church at this point (though there are certainly churches where a reminder would be in order). Instead, the problem is what we do about it.
Some pastors and leaders are in the same position I was in a few years ago – they know the mission of the church but aren’t structured to actually do anything about it. That’s why Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church is so vital. But why do we need to multiply? Because the goal of the Church (not any one congregation, but the whole Church) in any geography is to saturate that geography with the gospel of Jesus in both word and deed. So, if the mission, or goal, of the church in any geography is to saturate that geography with the gospel of Jesus, then how do you get at that goal? At the very least, I think it will take four primary things to get at the goal of saturation; namely, multiplication (as we already mentioned), mobilization, collaboration, and transformation. You will see some other blogs that address some of these other essential components to arrive at the goal of saturation, but I want to think about the final one I mentioned: transformation.
Ultimately, the only way the mission of saturation actually happens in a geography will be through the whole people of God faithfully following Jesus every day and compelling others to do the same. In other words, only transformed people can be used to transform a geography for the glory of God. Unfortunately, pastors and leaders keep running into walls because we are, at times, trying to mobilize empty shells in the mission of God. It simply won’t work. That’s why we need a real path forward and an actionable plan to make disciples.
One reason I’m so passionate about this is because of a question I was asked years ago by someone fairly new to our faith community. He said, “If my wife and I join this church, what do you expect us to look like in a few years?” At the time, I said something that sounded at least moderately satisfying to them, but in my heart I knew I couldn’t tell them with any level of specificity. I realized I had not actually defined for our faith community what a disciple is, and what a disciple does. So, a number of years ago, we sought to rectify that by teaching our church that a disciple is someone who daily follows Jesus and compels others to do the same. It’s a definition, but it’s not the only one. It may not even be the best one. But at least it is something for people to understand.
What does a disciple look like? Well, the way we define that – the way we communicate what they would look like if they join us in following Jesus – is that we all should be growing in the following four ways:
- We have a growing relational connection with God (through study of the Word, prayer, and various other disciplines that foster this)
- We grow in our understanding and our sharing the story of grace (what God has done in Jesus and how that has changed the world and our lives personally)
- We grow in our understanding and use of our spiritual gifts
- We grow in Christlikeness in all of our relationships (to our spouses, children, friends, employers, stuff, and time)
We are still endeavoring to get this right, but we realize it’s mission critical. We can never really get at the goal of saturation if people’s lives aren’t continually being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Hopefully, we will all endeavor in our churches to at least define what a disciple is, and then define what a disciple looks like and does. Because the transformation of people is a vital key in getting at the goal of saturating a geography with the gospel of Jesus.
Jerry Gillis is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, who has put down roots in Western New York. He has been serving the people of The Chapel since 2002, and been in vocational ministry since 1992. Jerry is passionate about reaching every man, woman, and child with repeated opportunities to hear and see the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Since becoming lead pastor of The Chapel, he has made it his aim to center this local church around that singular mission. Jerry also has the opportunity to speak to numerous pastors and churches around the nation (and even in other nations) as a result of his involvement with a network of churches called Christ Together. This network aims to empower the whole Church to bring the whole Gospel to the whole nation.