At the Awakening Church, our mission statement is: “Grow in Jesus. Give like Jesus. Go for Jesus.” Everything we do and believe in the Awakening Church can be summed up by what we call the three big m’s – maturity (growing in Jesus), ministry (giving like Jesus), and missions (going for Jesus).
“Grow in Jesus“-The first “big M” is maturity as we “grow in Jesus” and this is explained further in Ephesians 4:13-16, “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning of craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working of by which every part does its share, causes the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (NKJV). Not only are we passionate about ministry at the Awakening, but also maturity, for we must aim for the goal of becoming a “perfect man” (or woman). Now the word “perfect” used here does not mean sinless perfection, for we have already discussed that realistically we are never going to be sinlessly perfect until we enter heaven due to the sinful nature within us (see 1 John 1:8-10). This word “perfection” refers to the nature of one who is mature, whole, and complete. And this is attainable on this earth as we continue to grow in the Lord and as we fulfill by God’s grace “The Great Commandment” as we first love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and second as we love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31). But even when we grow up spiritually speaking, none of us ever reach a point where we are beyond growth and room for improvement, for all of us have room for growth and improvement until we die and meet our savior face to face in heaven! None of us know it all nor do any of us have it all together and therefore we are in daily need of God’s grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to continue to mature, grow, and walk with purity in our hearts, with our behavior, thoughts, speech and our motives! As a result of becoming mature in the Lord, we will attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. A byproduct of maturity is unity and love and this is what the church must continually strive for on all occasions! In fact this is what Jesus’ last prayer was before He died on the cross. He prayed in John 17:22-23, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” This was Jesus’ heart and passion for His bride the church and this is our passion at the Awakening too! As Romans 12:18 states, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” At the Awakening, we seek to resolve conflicts biblically and to kill all gossip even before it starts (see Matthew 5:23-24 and 18:15-18)! This must be our prayer and this will happen as a result of being mature in Jesus Christ!
“Give like Jesus“-We fulfill what we call the “big M” of ministry, as we “give like Jesus.” Ephesians 4:11-12 states, “And He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (NKJV). God has selected some gifted men and women to have, what we call, “the five-fold ministry” gifts of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and/or teacher for the purpose of “the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry.” The gifts of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are for the purpose of equipping or preparing the saints. Who are the saints? Often when we think of the term saint, we picture a person with a red devil on one of his shoulders and an angel on the other shoulder. And if that person chooses to listen to the voice of the good angel and do what he tells him, than he is a saint. Therefore, often people associate a saint with a person who has his or her life all together and is completely holy and blameless in all his behavior. Although as Christians the ideal, and what we are called to try our very best to be, is to be holy and blameless in everything (see Hebrews 12:14 and 1 Peter 1:14-16), but the reality is we often fall short and sin due to our struggle with our sin nature on this side of heaven (see 1 John 1:8-10). Therefore, if we equate sinlessness or perfection with being a saint, then no one would qualify on this earth – except for one person – and that person was Jesus Christ! Jesus was 100% sinlessly perfect! And the good news is that when a person places his faith in Jesus Christ and as a result becomes saved from his sins, Jesus comes to live in that person. And as a result of living in that person, He makes that person sinlessly perfect before God, the great and only judge of the earth! In theological and biblical terms, this is called justification which means “just as though we have never sinned” (see Romans 5). Therefore, on judgment day, God won’t see you and me as Christians, but rather Jesus Christ living in us and thus sinless perfection (i.e. a saint) and will grant us entrance into heaven for all of eternity (what a great deal)! Therefore, the word saint is just another word for a Christian who has been justified before God. So the gifts are given to certain people within the church to build up or equip the rest of the church for ministry. The word ministry comes from the word minister which simply mean to serve. So although the pastor is often titled a minister because it is his responsibility to serve the church through his gifts, in reality all saints or Christians are called to be ministers or servants. We all have been gifted with some gift from the Lord! It might not be one of the five ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11, but it could be another gift described in the Bible such as the gift of generosity, service, administration, mercy, helps, miracles, distinguishing of spirits, work of knoweldge, word of wisdom, leadership, prophecy, etc. (see Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; and 1 Peter 4:10-11). But whatever the gift God has graciously and sovereignly given to us, we are responsible to use those gifts to equip and build up others (both toward believers in the local church but also outside of the local church to unbelievers too) and not for our own glory and selfish desires!
“Go for Jesus“-The last “big M” we seek to fulfill by God’s grace is missions as we “go for Jesus.” When I say the word missions, often people think of a select group of people who have a special calling of God to go to some distant foreign land with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Although these Christians are missionaries, the truth is that all Christians are missionaries according to the New Testament. All that the word “missions” means is that we are on a mission. All of us have a clear mission and mandate as Christians and it is the same one as the disciples (i.e. followers of Jesus Christ) and the early church were given in the Bible. Jesus spoke the mission to the disciples when He left the earth in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.” Just as the disciples had a clear mission from Jesus and thus were missionaries, so we have the same mission today as they did and thus we are all missionaries! All of us are to make disciples of all the nations and thus fulfill by God’s grace “the Great Commission.” The word nation here comes from the Greek word ethnos which is where we derive our English word ethnicity from, and refers to people groups all over the world. There are still thousands of people groups who have never heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And according to Matthew 24:14, the end will not come until the Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations (or people groups). Therefore, the church both locally and universally, have some serious work cut out for them! Part of the process and journey of making disciples requires that we baptize new believers in water, which was something normally practiced in the early church right when a person initially got saved or shortly thereafter. Baptism was a sign to the world that a person had made the commitment to follow Jesus Christ from that point on. But not only were they to be baptized as a sign of authentic faith in Jesus, but also as disciples, we are to teach the new believer to obey all of Jesus’ commands in the New Covenant as revealed in the New Testament of the Bible. This is our great mission as Christians and thus all of us are technically missionaries!