A Boot Camp in YOUR Church
Note: This is the fourth of seven articles on becoming a sending church that started with “Cancel the Missions Program”.
Centripetal force is the opposite of centrifugal force which pushes things outward. Churches have a natural tendency that is centripetal. Instead of thrusting outward it which draws toward the center. The natural tendency for churches is to be more concerned about keeping people than reaching people. Believers often choose a church because it serves their needs and the desires of their family. It may be a good youth program, good music or good preaching that attracts. Those are good things but if serving myself is the primary focus, the natural tendency will be centripetal. Like the stone thrown into the water causes an outward ripple, the command of Christ to the church is meant to be centrifugal.
Each branch of the military has a version of “boot camp.” Basic training is the initial preparation of troops for service. It gives the soldier basic tools and discipline to perform the task ahead. It is designed to move a person from the civilian world to the military world. The purpose of boot camp is to prepare soldiers for a task. In a similar way, the local church is a boot camp. It is a place to train Christians for the job ahead. The purpose of boot camp is not to have a boot camp. So likewise, the purpose of the church is not to have a church… it is a tool used by God to prepare saints for the work of the ministry.
Every program in the church should be evaluated by whether or not it helps to fulfill the mission. If the youth program advances the Great Commission, then keep it. If not, stop it. If the Sunday School equips for the mission, then keep it… if not, cancel it. Or to put it in a positive way: do things that will result in the Great Commission being fulfilled. The leadership of a church would do well to take the time every year to evaluate every program in the church and ask the hard question of whether it is contributing to fulfilling the mission of the church. If not, the leadership needs to have the courage to either adjust it or delete it.
The book of Romans looms large in articulating the over-all plan of God for salvation and for the ages. This book could be considered the backbone of New Testament theology. Chapter 10 gives the marching orders for what to do with all that theology. The Apostle Paul articulates the driving force in his ministry: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved (Romans 10:10). He had previously indicated: “I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). There was no question that he was passionate about his mission which was clearly the Great Commission. Paul had no question about his mandate from God.
Does your church have a boot camp in place to prepare your people for the Great Commission?