Our Mission and Message

2015 RightNow Conference

People leave the church—some get a job in a different state and pack up and pull out of our community. Others like the worship at the church across the street. As a leader in the church, it can be tempting to lament the loss of church members, or even grow resentful. In this 35-minute session from the 2015 RightNow Conference, J.D. Greear addresses four obstacles to doing church God's way. 

J.D. is  the Lead Pastor at the Summit Church, a multisite congregation in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. He is author of numerous books including Gospel and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart.

J.D. began his message by discussing the importance of viewing call to God's mission as part of the call to discipleship. Working from Matthew 4:19, J.D. outlined the view of mission that he has adopted for the Summit Church: they strive to produce people who will do what they're good at for the glory of God and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God. Calling, he says, isn't a special anointing reserved for pastors or missionaries. Every disciple is called to disciple. 

J.D. pointed out that the great advances of the church in Acts happened through ordinary people. Have you seen "ordinary" church goers make an impact for God's kingdom in your community? If so, how? If not, why do you think they haven't made an impact?
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In the beginning of his message, J.D. highlighted the vast number of American, Christian businesspeople in the 10/40 Window who could impact that hard-to-reach area for Christ's Kingdom. How does this perspective (that those who work in "secular" areas are missionaries, too) affect your view of world missions? How about local outreach?
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If the mission of the church is to increase sending—not seating—capacity, then we as church leaders need to dedicate ourselves to raising up men and women who will impact their communities and workplaces for God's glory. J.D. outlined four obstacles that he recognized in his own ministry that stood in the way of doing God's work in the world:
  1. A failure to understand the power of the Holy Spirit.
  2. A failure to understand how people in our culture must be reached today.
  3. A failure to recognize idolatry in his heart.
  4. A failure to deal with his unbelief.
Each of these obstacles can hinder a church leader from participating with his or her people in growing the kingdom of God. The first, a failure to understand the Holy Spirit's power, highlights the point that God accomplishes the work of mission—not us.

J.D. pointed out that God accomplished the church planting in the New Testament through His Spirit in "inconsequential" people. In your ministry experience, where has the emphasis of ministry work been? On church staff? On congregants? On paid missionaries or organizations?
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In evangelical America, we're tempted to celebrate those pastors who can gather together the most people to bask in his singular anointing. How does this tendency affect the mission of God in the world? In the local community? What steps would you take to avoid creating that situation?
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How did J.D.'s first point impact you? How will you respond in light of his admonition to trust the Holy Spirit to do the work of multiplication?
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J.D. continued with his second point: that we tend to misunderstand the way in which we must reach the communities around us. People don't go to church anymore because it's "the right thing to do." They prefer to stay home, sleep in, and watch the football game. Instead of creating a huge, attractive worship service, we need to go to the people outside of our church walls. 

In your ministry experience, what outreach methods have succeeded in taking the gospel to your community? What could your improve?
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J.D. shared the story of engaging with the down-and-out portions of the Raleigh-Durham community. Where in your local community could your church engage and take the hope of the gospel to a hurting world?
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J.D.'s third point surfaced the ever-present temptation of idolatry and pride. We all have to wrestle with the siren call of selfish ambition. When we ask God to work through us and our church, we have to stop and ask why we're praying—and for whose gain.

Have you seen the temptation for selfish ambition creep up on your ministry? If so, how? If not, what did you do to prevent succumbing to temptation?
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James 4:2-4 (ESV)

2You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How does God view prayers that serve our own interests instead of His? How do we guard against adulterous prayers?
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What could you do to set an example of humble, God-focused prayer among your fellow staff members or congregation?
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The final obstacle that J.D. presented is the obstacle of unbelief, or not trusting that God will care for us and our churches when we offer Him our best. When Jesus called us to follow Him, however, He called us to lay our entire lives—our ministries and church included—on the altar before Him.  

What would you have to risk as a leader in the church if you were to offer your ministry or congregation to God in order to accomplish His mission?
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J.D. highlighted the parable of the talents, wherein the third servant doesn't waste his master's money, nor does he invest it. J.D. called this "more than one way to be wicked." What temptations would you be most likely to encounter when it comes to not investing your ministry or people in God's mission?
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Ministry involves sacrifice. What have you sacrificed over the course of your ministry? How have you seen God multiply that sacrifice? Does it build confidence in you to willingly risk more for His mission? Why or why not?
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What part of J.D.'s message made the greatest impact on you? Will your ministry change as a result? How?
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God has called each disciple to the mission of expanding His kingdom. As a leader in the church, He has equipped you with the position and talent to equip others. Obstacles may stand in your way, but by depending on the power of the Holy Spirit and submitting your work to God's control, you can build up the church.

This week, confidently entrust your ministry to God, and watch Him multiply your offering.  

For more information on the RightNow Conference or to find out how to attend next year's event, visit rightnowconference.org.    

One way we can encourage the people in our church to be on mission and seek to advance God's kingdom through their work. Consider going through J.D.'s Work as Worship Bible study on your own or with a group of business leaders in your church.