“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.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
I often get asked about the vision for Roots Church, and my response is pretty simple: proclaim the gospel, make disciples, raise up leaders, and trust God for the results. When I first started answering this question, I felt the temptation to say more, something more exciting, something that set us apart from other churches. But I am learning to be content with this vision, convinced that it is the heart of God’s purpose for local churches.
Here’s a bit more explanation:
Proclaim the gospel: A church must proclaim the gospel. It must proclaim, in words, who God is and what he has done to draw sinners to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And it must continue doing this, as this message isn’t just the means by which God saves us initially, but is the grounds of continuing identity, worth, comfort, and hope. Along with this, the church must preach, teach, and explain the full counsel of God’s word, for it is God’s word which gives life to and builds up his people.
Make disciples: God’s purpose for the church isn’t limited to saving people, but includes building them up into maturity. Being a Christian isn’t only about a one-time event where one first trusts in Jesus, but about ongoing trust in, knowledge of, love for, and dependence on Jesus. God is creating people who increasingly boast and glory in him alone, the church is to play a pivotal role in this process. We teach one another, we encourage one another, we forgive one another, we commit to one another.
Raise up leaders: The church needs people who are “able to teach” God’s word (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24). This is a requirement of pastor/elders, but is something everyone should aspire to (Col. 3:16). The church needs people who can shepherd others in light of God’s word. This, again, is what is required of pastor/elders, but is something everyone should aspire to. The church needs people willing to serve and minister to the various needs of the church. Some of these people will be installed as deacons (1 Tim. 1:8-13), but this ought to be the goal of all.
Trust God: It is tempting to say we trust God, when in reality, we trust our own ingenuity, techniques, abilities, charisma, etc. It’s also easy to say we trust God when things are going well, but when things don’t go as hoped, realize we were just trusting a certain set of circumstances. If God has told us what to focus on as a church (and he has), we can trust him with the results. We can trust him when the results look different than we hoped. And when we do, we get the chance to see clearly that it is God bearing fruit among us, and not just our efforts and techniques.
This is our vision as a church. In this new season as a church, we will continue to do this. How exactly we go about some of these things will look different in different times, but the vision is always the same. Pray that God would bear fruit as we walk in obedience.