It's the most frequent questions we hear from the churches we visit.
What Kind of Church Are You Going to Start?
by Josh Bennett
This is the question we have been asked more than any other since answering the call to the mission field. I suppose people have the best of intentions when they ask. In most cases, they are really asking the following questions: What type of music will your church sing? Will you be a come-best-dressed or a come-as-you-are church? Will your church have pews or chairs?
While there is certainly a place to discuss these issues in church life, I feel we have focused on the wrong questions for far too long. During this process, I have been forced to answer this question in my own heart. What type of church are we seeking to start? What principles and values will be our focus? With humility, I want to share the type of church we desire to start by providing five focal points for our ministry.
A church that focuses on studying and then obeying the Scriptures.
We desire, first and foremost, to be obedient to study, preach, and teach the Word of God. We desire to stand firm on biblical truth! Our focus on Scripture does not stop there. We have a passionate focus on not just hearing the Word, but obeying the Word (James 1:20-22). We are not as concerned with “Amen!” “That’ll preach!” and “Good sermon, Pastor!” as we are with the Word of God taking root in the lives of followers of Jesus Christ.
A church that is deeply rooted in prayer.
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced of two truths about prayer. First, I am convinced I do not understand how prayer works. Of course, I know it does work, and I know the key verses of Scripture on the subject of prayer. But how God’s will and our prayers work together is a mystery to me. Second, I am convinced that, as a whole, we do not pray enough. We want to be dependent on prayer and the working of the Holy Spirit as a church!
A church compassionately concerned for the lost.
When Jesus looked out over the city, He was moved with compassion because the people were as sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36-38), lost and far from God. I once preached a sermon that asked the question, “Are we moved by the things that move the heart of God?” I am certain Christ’s heart was moved by compassion for tax collectors and sinners. These people were far from God, and they were in desperate need of a Savior.
It is our calling to reach people with the love of Christ. It is our desire to love them as we love ourselves, to see them through the eyes of Jesus, and to point them to the Savior who made the ultimate sacrifice of love for them. We do not desire to simply see them as evangelistic targets or “notches on our belts.” We desire to see them as people who have real problems who need a Savior.
A service-oriented church.
The more I read the account of Jesus bending to wash the disciples’ feet, the more I am humbled that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was a servant. We are most like Christ when we are serving others. We desire to pour our lives into serving others. We want to be known as the most willing servants in Marana, Arizona. We want to get our hands dirty and love people the way Jesus loves us.
A church that wants to make much of Christ.
It is ultimately our calling to make much of Christ. Our lives exist to make much of Christ. We will spend eternity making much of Christ. We desire to see this happen as a church through Christ-like humility, service, feeding the poor, providing water for those thousands of miles away, biblical obedience, or in whatever we do. We want Christ to be lifted up! Let all that we do be done for the glory of Christ.
These principles by no means define everything we desire to be as a church. However, I feel that they provide a simple answer to the question, “What type of church will we start?” Pray with us that The Marana Project will be all that God desires it to be!
About the Writer: Josh Bennett and Jeff Goodman and their families have been commissioned to plant a Free Will Baptist church in Marana, Arizona. Visit www.themaranaproject.com.