Perspectives and Convictions Underpinning Whole-Life Disciplemaking Churches
Imagine Church began as a pilot project with a range of churches across the UK who wanted to learn how to create a whole-life disciplemaking church. You can read about the project and what we learnt in the book Imagine Church. But if we were asked to name the three core shifts in perspective that made the greatest difference to a church making this journey they would be these.
- Confidence in the whole-life gospel
If our vision of the gospel is too small or narrow we’ll miss the comprehensive implications of what God has done in Christ. We’ll fail to grasp that the whole of life really does matter to God and risk falling into the trap of the sacred-secular divide.
“The gospel is not a set of good instructions or a piece of good advice, but the good news of what God himself has achieved – for me, for us, for the world – in Christ. And the gospel is not only an offer of personal forgiveness, not only the rescue of men and women from judgment, but the renewal of God’s relationship with his people, and the beginning of the restoration of all creation.” Antony Billington, LICC
- Clarity around a whole-life mission strategy
What’s your strategy for mission? For many churches it’s one that essentially recruits the people of God to use some of their leisure time to join the missionary initiatives of church paid workers. Not a bad strategy and one that has borne great fruit in ministry to the poor, marginalised, needy and lost. It’s just that it’s incomplete and a tragic waste of the church’s mission potential. It leads to far too few Christians engaging in mission in the places they already naturally spend their time. After all, 98% of Christians spend 95% of their waking lives at home, work, at the gym and more. We can grow our capacity for mission by including those everyday places and people.
- Conviction about pastoral equipping
We’re convinced we need a renewed understanding of why we are part of a local church. Many people have high expectations of Pastoral Care from the church but low expectations of Pastoral Equipping for a life of mission and discipleship. The UK church has been built around a deeply-held commitment to the pastoral care contract. However, if churches are to take seriously the call to become whole-life disciplemaking communities, then the primary role of church leadership has to be one of disciplemaking, not principal carers, nor event organisers, nor recruiters for community activities. The ‘equipping leader’ helps people grasp their primary identity as a disciple of Jesus and trust God for the outworking of this in the whole of life.