I need your help. I’m beginning a new series on Voices called “Brotherly Advice.” A few weeks ago, one of our regular commenters wrote anonymously to ask our advice on a situation in his church. We had a pretty good discussion of the issues he faced, and he received, I think, some helpful advice.
I want to share an issue with you from my own ministry, and ask for your insight and opinions. And, in the future, if you want to ask a question to the blogging world, feel free to contact me. I will post your situation, anonymously or not. Struggling with a difficult member? Trying to decide whether to stay or go? Need insight on a new ministry? Why don’t you let some other folks weigh in on it?
Today’s “Brotherly Advice” Situation
I am trying to lead my church to refocus on its biblical mission and purposes. I have taught them the Great Commission, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:42 and other passages that deal with the nature and purposes of the church.
I have tried to line out the “mandates” of the church. What are the things that a church MUST do to be a faithful and obedient church? I have identified seven of them, based on the passages I referenced above. I want to share the seven mandates I have seen are incumbent in the church.
So, here are my questions:
1) Do you agree that these are mandates?
2) Are there any mandates I have ignored?
The seven statements in bold below are the actual mandate statements. The bullet points are either biblical support and reasoning, or applicational thoughts.
The Church’s Biblical Mandates
We believe that God has assigned certain tasks to Southern Hills Baptist Church which are essential for our existence as a faithful and obedient church. They are based primarily on Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, and Acts 2:42-47.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
First Mandate: SHBC must make disciples by evangelizing Siouxland.
(FYI – “Siouxland” is a term that describes the three Sioux Citys – in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota – and all the surrounding small towns.)
- Matthew 28:19 says that we make disciples by “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:8 says “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem.”
- From these scriptures, we recognize that God has commanded us to spread the gospel in a systematic way throughout our entire region.
- We accept the mandate to develop an effective and comprehensive plan to bring the gospel to all of Siouxland!
Second Mandate: SHBC must make disciples by teaching its people the full counsel of God’s Word.
- Matthew 28:20 says, “…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” In Acts 2:42, we are told that the Jerusalem church “…devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching.” Those teachings formed the basis of the New Testament.
- We recognize that if God’s people are going to obey all that Jesus commanded, they must know the Word of God fully.
- We accept the mandate to develop a systematic program of Bible teaching for this church.
Third Mandate: SHBC must make disciples by maintaining a close fellowship.
- Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to…the fellowship.”
- We understand fellowship to mean a shared life of encouragement, support, sacrifice and exhortation between those believers whom God has led to be a part of this local fellowship.
- We understand that there is also a call to fellowship with the greater Christian world, but affirm that our primary focus is on the fellowship of this local church.
- We believe that unity of the Body of Christ is of the highest importance.
- We believe that fellowship demands sacrifice, humility, love and forgiveness from each person toward the others in the church.
- We accept the mandate to develop and maintain a deep fellowship at SHBC.
Fourth Mandate: SHBC must make disciples by worshiping the Crucified and Risen Christ in spirit and in truth.
- Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to…the breaking of bread.”
- We understand the breaking of bread to refer primarily to the Lord’s Supper, which is a time of deep worship focusing of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
- We understand that worship involves more than just singing. It is the act of giving glory to God and surrendering completely to Him in the light of who He is.
- We accept the mandate to worship passionately, both in our personal lives and in our public church services.
Fifth Mandate: SHBC must make disciples by fervent prayer.
- Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to…prayer.”
- We recognize nothing we attempt will be successful without the power of God. Luke 18:27 adds, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” John 15:5 gives the other side of this. “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
- We affirm that prayer is our source of intimacy with God and of spiritual power.
- We accept the mandate to develop an organized strategy of fervent prayer that seeks God’s presence and power in all we do.
Sixth Mandate: SHBC must make disciples by participation in a program of worldwide missions.
- Acts 1:8 says, “You shall be witnesses…in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
- We recognize that we must have a focus on the spiritual needs of the entire world.
- We affirm our commitment to participation in the Southern Baptist world missions program by giving a percentage of our undesignated gifts through the Cooperative Program, by supporting the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, the Hyde State Missions Offering and other denominational missions causes as we are led.
- We affirm the freedom of this church to support other missions causes not aligned with our denomination, as long as they are faithful to the gospel and in basic agreement with our doctrine and practice.
- We will pray for missions and for our missionaries.
- We will actively participate in world missions through mission trips both in the US and around the world.
- We accept our mandate to be an active part of a worldwide missions program.
Seventh Mandate: SHBC must make disciples by providing administrative support so that we operate all our ministries effectively, efficiently, and legally.”
- 1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “But all things should be done decently and in order.” Matthew 22:21 says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”
- We recognize our responsibility to see that the church operates its ministries legally, ethically and in an orderly fashion.
- Unless there is a conflict with biblical principles, we will seek to operate in accord with all the laws of the land and standard business and accounting practices.
- We understand that administrative support is crucial to the proper operation of ministries, but also understand that our primary task is ministry, not the maintenance of our buildings, programs or administrative structure.
- We accept our mandate to provide proper organizational and administrative support for our ministries.
So, there it is – the seven biblical mandates I see for the church. Tell me what you think.