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Stories & Blog

The Challenge of Vision

The Challenge of Vision

Read the series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

The enormous proliferation of new church starts in North America in the last 10 years is a very positive sign of the church’s vision to extend its presence and witness in our country. But it also reveals a dissatisfaction with the vision of the church as it presently exists.

It is true that often, church-planting efforts target areas that are unchurched, where a large percentage of the population have no church affiliation. But even in these areas, one is usually not more than 15-20 minutes from a Bible-believing church of some sort. In one Midwestern metro area with no lack of evangelical churches, there are 125+ church-planters active in beginning new works. Something is lacking in the vision of many churches that has led to this explosion of church starts in North America.

The need for missional community | New church starts, as well as a growing number of established churches, see the need to be agents of God’s kingdom through:
  • authentic, transparent relationships within and without God’s community.
  • being sent on mission, displaying God’s mercy in our neighborhoods and cities to bring transformation — the invasion of His future kingdom into our present.
Missional oversight | Noticeably absent or minimalized, however, from the purpose statements of many new missional churches is a vision for the least-reached areas of the world, representing 2.9 billion people, where the kingdom of God is barely present. Pastor and author David Platt wrote:
...biblically, our mission is not only about loving our city or invading our culture with the gospel. Our mission is also about leaving our cities to infiltrate every culture with the gospel. I am convinced that Satan, in a sense, is just fine with missional churches in the West spending the overwhelming majority of our time, energy, and money on trying to reach people right around us. Satan may actually delight in this, for while we spend our lives on the people we see in front of us, more than 6,000 people groups for generations have never even heard the gospel and remain in the dark. (Radical Together, p. 87)
Does post-modern doubt about the exclusiveness of salvation through Jesus alone contribute to this oversight and to the emphasis on showing physical mercy and compassion (rightly so) while effectively ignoring the spiritual lostness of billions who have never heard or seen a Jesus-follower? I don’t know.

But I do believe that if the “all nations” part of Jesus’ disciple-making vision was a regular part of the teaching in our new and established churches, and if we were as passionate about the unreached billions of the world as we are of our cities in North America, we would see a constant flow of people and resources being missionally sent and spent for the fulfillment of the purpose of God’s heart: to have worshippers from every tribe and nation.
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