The 5 functions of the church are Evangelism, Worship, Discipleship, Fellowship and Mission. Evangelism seems to have fallen into an unfortunate place where it as seen as a church program, a calling or the work of one department inside of the church. In fact, evangelism is a lifestyle which should be exhibited in the life of every follower of Christ.
So then, what is Evangelism?
If you have the time, read Acts 8:25-40
I think this is a great example of what evangelism is all about. In the simplest forms it is knowing the story of God, knowing how God changed your life, and telling other’s. We see Philip here in Acts Chapter 8. He is prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak to the Ethiopian, He is obedient and does so. He tells the story of God and then it says he vanished (seriously check that out, it’s a crazy exit).
I have witnessed to people. I have walked up to complete strangers and told them about Christ. Those have been profound expereinces for me but somehow seem to lack defintion for what my life’s work of evangelism should be. Some of us are bold and are called to preach to strangers. However, all of us are comissioned to tell our story of how Christ changed our life.
One other thing I would add about Phillip—he was listening for the opportunity to share about Christ. Living a life of evangelism is about waiting expectantly and listening for God to open up opportunities where we may tell others the good news.
It’s easier to say one guy has the gift of evangelism, so I don’t have to embarass myself and risk coming across as a “Jesus Freak.” I get that. But when only one guy tells the story it hardly sounds like a movement. When all of us tell our story, those who do not know Christ will be amazed at what’s going on around them.
In His Grip,
5 Functions of the church
Long before Rick Warren wrote The Purpose Driven Life, we wrote “the purpose driven church.” For the past 15 years, Warren has been coaching pastors on leading churches with purpose. I can still remember reading that book when it came out and how deeply the words resonated with me. I had been looking for those thoughts for a long time. In the book he outlines 5 basic functions of every church. Warren gives good structure to what is a timeliess biblical explanation of the church.
When I had lunch with Kevin Joyce a couple of weeks ago (fractals.tv), he referenced the 5 functions and it set off a chain events in my mind. What is the church supposed to do?
The 5 functions are:
Evangelism: Telling the story of your changed life
Worship: A lifestlye of reverence toward God
Discipleship: Commitment to growing and raising others
Mission: Doing what God has called you to do
Fellowship: The unity of Christians as they follow Jesus
We can quickly run through the list, add our own justifications, and use it as a check list about whether our church is doing what it should, but the church is not a thing. We are the church. The 5 functions of the church are not a list of what each congregation should be doing. They are in fact a list of what should be inside of each congregant (that’s you and me).
We have to stop thinking of the church as a place we go. We have to stop judging different congregations on what they have or do not have. We need to see these 5 functions as a mirror to review our own calling. If indeed you are the church, how are you doing on each of these 5 functions?
I have had a few very interesting conversations with some men whom I respect, both men are significantly older than I am. I should also say I have a high regard for their opinions as well. During the course of two different conversations on separate dates I brought up the idea of legacy. I was astonished at how quickly each man reacted, as if I had called them a name. “What is so bad about legacy, I asked?”
Man one, “it’s arrogant and self serving.”
Man two, “I’m not looking for recognition for the things i do.”
On both occasions I was certain they had completely missed the point. Their angst saddened me and awakened in me a need to redefine legacy, perhaps that will be mine. I can’t blame either man, the idea of legacy has been tainted. Most often these days it’s a word used when discussing money. People request buildings to be named after them, as legacy. People have their names stamped on pews of churches as legacy. Non-profits refer to legacy donations, which is a donation committed in a will… like one you give after you die. This sounds very much like an arrogant display or people looking for recognition. It usually results in things like the sunday school classroom with the nice furniture I was never allowed to take teenagers into.
We must redefine legacy, mainly because my generation needs the benefit of it so desperately. In the simplest terms, I would say to the men and women who are moving into retirement age, “keep your money and tell us your stories.” Legacy is not about tangible things. Legacy is pouring our lives into the next generation so that they might live with the integrity of the past generation. Legacy is not about money.
Right after college I had the opportunity to serve in a great church downtown in Houston. Like most young youth pastors I was fired up. One of the first request I received was from a parent who asked if I would mentor their son. He had gotten into some trouble early in high school, had been sent off to military school, and then landed back in Houston for his senior year. He told me that while he was at military school he gave his life to Christ. I was thrilled to be a part of this guys life and to disciple him, he too was fired up.
One morning I rolled into work around 10AM, that’s the official start time for most youth pastors. I walked into my office and was surprised to find my “disciple” sitting on the couch. I asked him, “why aren’t you in school?” He looked me right in the eyes, with no shame, and said, “I got suspended.” Now I am thinking, “great i have already failed, my first disciple is suspended.” He explained what happened, “Man, I was walking down the hall of my school today and this guy took the Lord’s name in vain… so I punched him in the face.”
Wow! Talk about not getting it, right? Well actually, I have thought about that story a hundred times and after giving it some thought I think he may be closer to to who we should be than I am most days. I am not suggesting we start throwing punches but I am wondering if we should at least throw over some tables. Let’s face it the church surrenders more of it’s culture shaping influence every day. If we are going to change the system it’s going to take leaders who are willing to stand up for Jesus.
This past Sunday I preached out of the gospel of Mark, Chapter 2:23 through 3:12. As I was reading through the passages I made sure everyone noticed the punctuation. Jesus is clearly angry, it actually says He was. When he calls up the man with a withered hand the sentence ends with an exclamation. Too often, we picture Jesus as a withdrawn emotionless character. On more than one occasion, recorded in the Gospels, He was visibly angry. Not only do we see raw emotion but in other places we can see His transparency. Whether he is weeping over the death of his cousin or lamenting the path Jerusalem chose, Jesus was forthright about how he was feeling.
This should be an example to all of us as we prepare to preach this coming Sunday. Preach Naked. I have heard it said that when the people in our church hear us preach the very worst part of them is listening to the very best of us. Everyone brings baggage into church and everyone assumes they are the only one with baggage. As communicators we have the opportunity to open our hearts and at times spill our guts. When we are transparent others respond. We create a sacred space where it’s okay for everyone to admit they are messed up. Consider your message this coming Sunday and ask how will you let the people in your church see how real you really are?