Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a framework for growing as a sending church? Something churches could use to identify their strengths and weaknesses in missions? Now there is. We call them the Sending Church Elements. The Upstream Collective has identified four phases, divided into 17 elements, that make up healthy sending churches. This ebook is part of the Sending Church Elements series, in which each element is explained and made practical. Element 15, “Receiving Sent Ones During Reentry,” describes how the church receives sent ones who are returning from the field indefinitely through planning, presence, and provision.
Purpose-driven church. Simple church. Organic church. Missional church. Deep church. Radical church. Transformational church. Total church. Sticky church. Tribal church. Mission-shaped church. Center church. Vertical church. Everyday church. Deliberate church. Gospel-centered church.
Do we really need one more _________ church?
“Yes!” says the collective of churches who consider themselves part of a growing movement called “sending church”. It has proven itself as a term that is here to stay, but the meaning of it has been sadly mistaken. Many churches who call themselves sending churches are actually far from it. Some who are familiar with the term consider it just another missional trend. Others, upon first encounter think it speaks only to missiology. Sending church desperately needs clarity.That’s precisely what this book is for.
It began with a gathering of sending churches who sought to answer the question, “What is a sending church?” They came up with a lengthy definition, and we then took almost a year to flesh out that definition one word at a time according to Scripture and scholarship. The goal was not just clarity, but to send a timely word to churches about reclaiming their birthright as the leaders in the Great Commission. After all,
A Sending Church is a local community of Christ-followers who have made a covenant together to be prayerful, deliberate, and proactive in developing, commissioning, and sending their own members both locally and globally, often in partnership with other churches or agencies, and continuing to encourage, support, and advocate for them while making disciples cross-culturally.
Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know the struggle. Things start out positive enough. Then exhaustion or hunger or fear-of-sasquatch sets in, and every step becomes a reconsideration. But if you hold out, there awaits the sweet joy and relief of being so close to the top you can see it. Your legs might be mush, but the sight gives you new life. Every step becomes a declaration that you’re ready to summit.
John the Baptist stood before the most epic summit in the history of the world. Towering high over the whole Bible is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. From the garments of skin God made to cover Adam and Eve after they sinned (Genesis 3:21), to the Jewish sacrificial system that called for the slaughter of male lambs without blemish (Leviticus 1:3-4), everything before Christ looked forward to his coming to take away the sin of the world. From the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost by “Christ our Passover lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7), to the people gathered around the Lamb who have been ransomed from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9), everything after Christ looks back to all that he accomplished.
John the Baptist stood before this summit. He was sent for the very purpose to make preparation for the way up. Yet the people of Israel were stumbling over their own desires. Their eyes were searching for a revolution-style leader who would put them back on top. No wonder they missed Jesus altogether when John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”–no one was looking for a lowly messiah. Who saw it coming that a man of sorrows who would suffer and die to bring salvation not only to the Jews, but to people all over the world? This is why John’s ministry was a call to repent. It was the only way to prepare the world for its Savior.
Likewise, the season of Lent is all about preparation and repentance. Lent is the forty days (not counting Sundays) stretching from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Historically, Christians have set aside this time to prepare their hearts to remember Jesus’ death and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Easter is not only the summit of human history, it’s the defining reality of the Christian life. This devotional is a guide for preparing our hearts for Easter. It’s a climb toward the breathtaking panorama of what Jesus has done for us.
The goal of this devotional guide is that the Lamb of God who took away your sin would remind you how much you need him, how much those around the world need him, and how much he calls you to participate in his global mission. It was written for Sojourn Community Church, but has been used by numerous other churches and individuals. The risen Savior of the world is in sight; let us prepare ourselves for him!