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Ten Characteristics of a Church on Mission - Part 2

Blog: Ten 2

By Pastor Scott Thomas, President Acts 29 Network

We are examining the characteristics of a missional church.

Part 1 is found here where characteristics 1 and 2 are discussed.

  1. Understands the centrality of the gospel expressed in all aspects of a person’s life (1 Cor. 15:1-4; 2:2; Gal. 6:14).
  2. The missional church is committed to the authoritative, infallible, inerrant, inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:14-17; Acts 2:42).
  3. Gatherings are characterized by God-centered worship, preaching of the gospel, prayer, Lord’s Supper by penitent souls and baptism as a response to the gospel (John 4:23-24). 

    Worship is the central act by which the community corporately celebrates with joy and thanksgiving both God’s presence and promised future.[1]  A missional church worships God in an authentic way as we worship a Savior who left us here to be captured by His love and pursue His mission through His redemption. The missional church encourages what Tim Keller calls “evangelistic worship”—making worship comprehensible to unbelievers leading to commitment.[2]

    Principles for Public Missional Worship

    Bob Kauflin reminds us the principles for public missional worship. “Paul challenges the Corinthians to take unbelievers into account when they gather. He insists that they keep the unbeliever in mind as they exercise spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:23-25)…Whether it’s raised hands, formal liturgies, or unspoken standards, we need to see them through the eyes of an unbeliever.” [3] Kauflin suggests that to significantly impact the unbelievers in a worship gathering, the following should be present:

    1. Authentic passion – enthusiastic expression outwardly what is happening inwardly.
    2. Love – overwhelming unbelievers with genuine love (John 17:21).
    3. The Gospel – clearly proclaimed and faithfully applied in an understandable way.

    Why Preaching is Suffering in the Church

    Preaching is central to the missional church worship experience. The Reformers were convinced that the heart of true biblical worship was the preaching of the Word of God. Al Mohler said that preaching is suffering a loss in today’s church due to six factors.[4]

    1. Lack of confidence in the power of the [spoken and written] word – failing to realize the transformative power of the word communicated orally and literarily.
    2. Infatuation with technology – over-dependence on graphics, images, film clips and technological wizardry.
    3. Embarrassment before the biblical text – lacking confidence in the Bible’s authority.
    4. Emptying of biblical content – failing to teach the actual text of Scripture and resorting to pithy points.
    5. Focus on felt needs – anthrocentric preaching as opposed to theocentric preaching.
    6. Absence of the gospel – turning texts into literary articles, practical steps or morals to follow without any clear presentation of sin, redemption and reconciliation.

      Preaching of the word has life-transforming power producing repentance, restitution, confession, reconciliation, comfort, joy, encouragement, wisdom as well as indignation, anger and offense by the stubborn hearted person. The missional church seeks to make disciples with Spirit-empowered preaching of God’s truth or as Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “Preaching is theology coming through a man that is on fire.”[5] John Piper described preaching. He said 1) the goal of preaching is the glory of God. 2) The ground of preaching is the cross of Christ and 3) the gift of preaching is the power of the Holy Spirit. [6]

      The missional worship gathering additionally incorporates public reading of Scripture, prayer for the glory of God to be expressed through the suffering body and community, and response to the Spirit of God and the word of God expressed demonstrably with undefined regularity through baptism and communion. Although the worship gathering is not primarily for us, the body is instructed how to participate in the diverse liturgy as committed followers of Jesus.

      Elements of Authentic Worship

      The missional church experiences authentic worship by beginning with a true vision of the living God (Isaiah 6:1-8).

      1. We must first see God, as He is—our great King and Judge sitting upon a throne, lofty and exalted (Isaiah 6:1-4).
      2. Secondly, authentic worship leads to confession of sin both individually and corporately (Isaiah 6:5). We address our sin; admit our uncleanness and seek His mercy and grace.
      3. The third place where authentic worship leads us is proclamation of the gospel (Isaiah 6:6-7). As we realize our utter sinfulness, the missional church proclaims the redemption of sin through the work of Jesus on the cross—where we glory.
      4. Lastly, a missional church experiences authentic worship with a response (Isaiah 6:8). By excluding the cross, the blood atonement, the sacrifice and the cost of sin, our worship is horribly weakened and as a result our missionary involvement will be stifled. [7]

      To be continued...

      [1] Empirical Indicators of a Missional Church, Gospel and Our Culture Newsletter ( (accessed 10-18-09)


      [3] Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2008), p. 203.

      [4] R Albert Mohler, Jr.,He is Not Silent (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008), pp. 16-21.

      [5] Iain Murray, Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), p. 22.

      [6] John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), p. 23.

      [7] R Albert Mohler, Jr., pp. 28-38.


      Charles Stone, Jr.

      on Jun 17, 2010 :: 9:02 am

      Scott, very powerful post. Why preaching suffers hit me in the eyes. I re-tweeted it.
      Charles Stone