What does Doxa Church mean by “missions”?
First, it’s important to note that opinions on ‘missions’ in the Church vary widely, which is why the elders at Doxa Church have seen fit to clarify a philosophy of missions in accordance with the Scriptures. Second, you’d be hard pressed to find the word ‘mission’ or ‘missions’ or ‘missionaries’ or ‘missional’ in our translations of the Scriptures. However, that does not imply that these words are not helpful labels in seeking to address the task God has given to the church.
The word ‘mission’ comes from the Latin verb missio, which means ‘to send.’ And herein, we find our connection to the Scriptures. In the Scriptures, we see the verb ‘to send’ used frequently, and in a variety of ways. The mission of God has always been a sending program. A basic theology of ‘sending’ includes Abram who was ‘sent’ to a new land to be the father of a great nation (Gen 12:1-3), Moses who was ‘sent’ to Pharaoh to deliver his people (Ex 3:10), Israel who was ‘sent’ out of Egypt and into the Promised Land (Ex 13-14), the prophets who were ‘sent’ to address Israel’s disobedience, and then in these last days He sent His Son into the world ‘that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). Jesus was ‘sent’ by God, empowered by the Spirit of God, equipped with the Word of God to accomplish the plan of God through His incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension. Then, the Father and Son ‘sent’ the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). Then, the Spirit was poured out on the church, and the church, built on the foundation of the apostles (apostle means one who is ‘sent’ (Eph 3:20)), was sent to complete the ministry of Christ to be Christ’s witnesses ‘in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). And just as Jesus prayed to the Father, ‘As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world’ (John 17:18).
That work continues today and will continue until Christ returns. But what is the work exactly? What specifically have we been sent to do? The answers, as mentioned, have varied greatly. The elders at Doxa Church believe the answer to this question rightly frames a Biblical philosophy of missions.
The Mission of ‘Missions’
The responsibility of the church is the Great Commission and the goal of the Great Commission is the glory of God in making disciples of all nations.
Matthew 28:16-20 ‘16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go 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.’
The command in this passage is ‘make disciples.’ What is a disciple? Simply put, a disciple is a Christian (2 Cor 5:17; John 1:12-13; 3:3; 8:31). Not a Christian by name only or cultural affiliation but a Christian by life and doctrine (1 Tim 4:16). A Christian has been born again (John 3:3), born of the Spirit (John 3:7), ‘not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13). A Christian is one who is born again through the living and abiding Word of God (1 Pet 1:23; Ja 1:18), evidenced by repentance and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (2 Tim 2:25; Eph 2:8), commissioned unto good works (Eph 2:10), and called to a process of progressive sanctification into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to the next (2 Cor 3:18). And all of that ultimately falls under the concept of being a disciple of Jesus. The verb ‘go’, in Matthew 28, is a participle that modifies the main verb which is the imperative ‘make disciples.’ While it does have an imperatival force, it is not the command. We understand it as something of an essential prerequisite before the action of the main verb. In other words, you can’t make disciples without ‘going.’ Thus, the Christian’s mind must view themselves as sent by the all-encompassing authority of Jesus to be and make disciples who make disciples for the glory of God.
How does Jesus instruct us to do that?
There are two ‘ing’ verbs that tell us how to make disciples, baptizing and teaching; both of which are functions of the local church. Therefore, the mission of ‘missions’ is the Great Commission and the mission of the Great Commission is establishing disciple making local churches committed to baptizing and teaching.
Baptizing- The responsibility for baptizing implies the responsibility to see that lost people are getting saved. And Scripture is clear that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). So to accomplish the Great Commission requires an army of ‘sent ones’ carrying out faithful preaching of the Gospel (Rom 10:5-17; 1 Cor 1:18-2:15), empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) for the ultimate purpose of the glory of God in Christ (John 15:8; Rom 11:36). And upon one’s salvation, baptizing he or she in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Teaching- The Great Commission does not stop at conversion but continues through ‘teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’ It is in the context of the local church that believers are taught and grow into maturity (Eph 4:1-16; Tit 2:1-15), are equipped for the work of ministry (Eph 4:11-12), minister their spiritual gifts (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12), fulfill the biblical ‘one anothers’ (John 13:34-35), are held accountable (Heb 10:24, 25), and are spiritually cared for through the shepherding of godly elders (1 Tim 3:1-7; Heb 13:17; 1 Pet 5:1-4). In short, the local church is the environment where believers in Christ pursue an ongoing life of discipleship together.
How far and wide does this mission go?
To the ends of the earth or ‘all nations’- God has purposed to gather people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Rev 7:9-12). Therefore Great Commission work is to stretch to the ends of the earth (13:47). The Lord Jesus intends for the witness of His church to be ever expanding geographically (Acts 1:8), and the Apostle Paul modeled this passion and pursuit (Acts 13-28; Rom 15:19-21). God is passionately committed to His name being spread and exalted among all the nations (Isa 12:4; 49:6; 66:19; Matt 6:9; Ps 67). The teaching from the beginning of Scripture (Gen 12:3) to the end (Rev 5:9) is that God is committed to magnifying His name by redeeming for Himself a people from all the peoples of the world.
Jesus promised that He would build His church (Matt 16:18), which He has purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28; Eph 5:25). Paul sought to gather believers and establish local churches wherever he went (Acts 14:23; Tit 1:5). Therefore, the full work of missions is seen not only in preaching the Gospel and seeing people come to faith in Christ, but in establishing new believers into local Biblical churches. And we sees this purpose as the same for Christians everywhere. Since the local church belongs to God, it must have the same biblical aim and focus, and pursue faithfulness to all that Christ commands, in whatever cultural context it exists.
The Method of ‘Missions’
Prayer- a church potent in disciple making is a church powerful in prayer: confessing our own dependence on Him (John 15:5) and calling out for the Lord to help us and equip us unto usefulness in his harvesting work (Lk 10:2; Rom 15:30-33; Eph 6:18-20; Acts 1:14; 4:24-31; Isa 6). Prayer is not a negligible part of the Great Commission, it’s a non-negotiable part and starting place for all mission power and endeavors. The ‘power of prayer’ is a foundational pillar upon which our church stands (Eph 6:18) and thus prayer will continue to be a driving force behind our disciple making efforts at the church. The goal will forever be more people praying and praying with a missional mindset.
Passion- cultivating a passion in the Christian for His mission to the world (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9). We will seek to accomplish this through: education- hosting classes and offering resources to inform and develop a strong Biblical and practical basis for missions and equipping; vision- revisiting our mission through sermon series, prayer nights etc.; support (notes, calls, encouragement, training etc.); opportunities to go (example: short terms missions that further long term partnerships that we seek to build). The goal will be to mobilize the body to give of their time, talent, and treasure towards this great cause in our backyard and around the world. This mobilization process begins with the elders seeking the Lord together for wisdom and direction for opportunities to help people move towards ‘missions’ as one ministry of the church to ‘missions’ as the calling of every Christian whether living in Rocklin or Rwanda. Integrating missions into every Christians’ mentality instead of adding it to the ministry buffet list of options in the church is key, we believe, to the overall success of the strategy. If missions is considered a separate ministry within the church, participation will be low, impact will be less than desired and the strength of the movement will be compromised. The goal of every ministry is Great Commission work.
Proclamation- The public proclamation of the gospel is in the DNA of Christ’s mission to every believer. The word of the cross is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16; Col 1:18) and the power of God unto sanctification (John 17:17). That is the essential core of making disciples (Matt 28:18-20). Reaching the world is dependent on it. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Rom 10:14-15a). Therefore, we must equip our church with a robust understanding of the gospel as well as how to share the gospel. Obviously this begins with the pulpit but extends into the responsibility of small groups, evangelism classes and on to every individual Christian who bears the responsibility to ‘preach the gospel’ (1 Cor 9:16).
Planting Churches- We believe church planting is the most effective means of evangelism and discipleship. As we follow Paul’s ministry in the New Testament, you see Paul plant a church, move on to plant another church in a new city or region and then he or others would return to further cultivate relationships, encourage leaders, and advance the gospel. This is why Paul would leave his co-workers like Titus, on the island of Crete for example, that he might ‘set in order what remains’ (Tit 1:5) among existing, though weak and immature, churches. Paul did both- he planted churches and strengthened churches. This is the primary effort to which we will commit ourselves. Which leads us to...
What kind of churches will we plant? We are committed to Vertical (God-glorifying, Bible preaching, Christ exalting, prayer dependent), Missional (evangelism and discipleship oriented) and Multiplicational (church-planting) churches.
Our aim: impact locally- reach nationally- touch globally.
Locally- the Lord has placed us where we are and He has done so with purpose and precision (Acts 17:26). Therefore, we will not overlook our backyard as we consider church planting. The fact that there may be many church buildings in our backyard is no indicator that faithful discipleship is taking place. We will look for opportunities to be a strengthening influence for churches in our community (providing theological training, practical ministry help). We will also not hesitate to plant churches if we notice a dearth of discipleship or simply not enough churches to handle the growing population of a particular area. Inside our church, our training emphasis for church planting will rest strongly with the 6:4 Pastoral Internship. In the 6:4 Pastoral Internship, we equip godly men who sense God’s call to the ministry through a practical training program and an environment of spiritual fellowship and relationships which emphasize unreserved commitment to the worship of God, submission to the authority of the Scriptures, a life of personal holiness, the priority of the local church, and the mission of penetrating the world with the Truth. Through this effort, our hope is to establish a deeper well of discipleship and discipling leaders in the church as well as sending some of these men to establish new works.
In terms of developing a church planting pipeline, we will seek to train future leaders/pastors through our 6:4 Pastoral Internship. We will evaluate the prospective pastors gifting and supply him with launch phase protocol through the shared resources available to us through the Great Commission Collective, help to raise up people to form an initial core team, and offer support through off-site coaching and leadership until local elders are appointed which usually takes 18-24 months upon a church plant’s launch.
Nationally- When we expand beyond our backyard, the opportunities are obviously more difficult to come by on our own, though some may arise from within our midst. Generally speaking, however, we will work in partnership with organizations like the Great Commission Collective to plant more Vertical, Missional, and Multiplicational churches. Additionally, we would love to, Lord willing, cultivate a fellowship of churches as we plant more churches and open our facilities for regular annual conferences for training, equipping, and encouragement.
Internationally- Again the further we expand beyond our backyard, the more difficult the international effort becomes on our own. Certainly, the Lord may raise up some of our members to go overseas but generally speaking it is typically cheaper and arguably more effective to support a national in their home country than to send a North American overseas. As a result, we believe the best way to support reaching the nations is by providing theological and practical ministry training for pastors and church planters internationally as well as prayerfully considering the expansion of future training centers to assist in international church planting and church strengthening efforts. As for the unreached (Rom 15:20-21), we will rely heavily on the expertise of like minded strategic churches and parachurch ministries. This leads us to our commitment to particular partnerships.
Partnerships- We believe it is God’s desire for the local church to realize its potential to evangelize and build disciples from their own community and around the world. We believe this happens most effectively when local churches partner together. Partnerships examples in line with our methodology include, but are not limited to:
- Training and strengthening churches and church leaders- we will focus our support on activities focused on making disciples, resulting in the establishment and/or strengthening of biblically-ordered local churches.
- The Great Commission Collective.
- TMAI- see ministry distinctives here (https://www.tmai.org/about-us/ministry-distinctives/). Opportunities include (https://www.tmai.org/connect/ambassador-program/): adopt a TMAI training center, contribute to real-time needs and projects. TMAI provides a return on investment that is unmatched. Consider this: It costs nearly $50,000 to bring one pastor from Africa to the US to study for a year. However, for the same $50,000, TMAI can provide one year of training for thirty students in Africa. There is no question which is the wiser stewardship of the Lord’s resources. Multiplication- By training one local pastor, we are strengthening an entire church congregation. That body, in turn, will be fully equipped to faithfully preach Christ to its surrounding community. With over 5,000 graduates teaching in thousands of churches, gospel witnesses are multiplied exponentially. An investment into one pastor’s life brings a harvest of many. Impact- Given the proper training, indigenous church leaders are more effective at planting and pastoring churches than foreign missionaries since they are fluent in the language, have an innate knowledge of their culture, and are intimately connected to the people to whom they minister. Because our graduates face no cultural or language barrier, ministry impact is maximized from day one.
- Bible Translation
- Seed Project- translation efforts into new languages.
- Sending and Reaching
- HeartCry Missionary Society- HeartCry works with indigenous missionaries whom God has raised up for Himself in some of the most remote places on the earth. It is our goal to provide whatever training and resources necessary to advance the Gospel through these indigenous missionaries around the world. Unreached of the day, featured field of ministry- to add to our Doxa weekly- (https://heartcrymissionary.com/)
- Pioneers.org- is a missionary ministry that empowers gospel-driven Christians to go to the ends of the earth together in relentless pursuit of the unreached. Pioneers sees partnership with the local church as essential and works to reach the ends of the earth with the gospel. A ministry like this could be particularly useful in partnership with unreached areas.
Provision- the church will steward its resources to contribute to Great Commission work inside and outside of the context of our local church. A minimum of 10% of our regular giving will be apportioned to these efforts. In light of the priorities above, Doxa Church will look to contribute (locally and globally):
- 40% towards church planting
- 3% of the Giving Budget to contribute to our church planting opportunities plus 2% (in partnership with the Great Commission Collective) (Matt 28:18-20).
- 30% to partnerships that help advance Great Commission Work
- Training and strengthening, translating, sending and reaching ministries in line with our philosophy of ministry.
- Missions needs (Tit 3:13-14), support of saints (1 Cor 16:1; 2 Cor 8:4).
- 20% to mercy ministry
- The poor (Prov 22:9; Prov 19:7; Prov 28:27; Prov 21:13)
- Hungry, thirsty, those in prison, naked, sick (Matt 25:44)
- Widows and orphans (1 Tim 5:16; James 1:27)
- Sierra Pregnancy and Health, Safe Refuge etc.
- 10% Benevolence (directed to those within our church (Gal 6:10))- includes those in need (Lk 10:33-35; Lk 14:12-14; 1 John 3:17-18; Ja 2:15-16; those who ask Matt 5:42-46)
*Note: these percentages are not permanent but best reflect at this time a faithful stewardship to our priorities and philosophy of missions.
What’s the church’s relationship to parachurch ministries? The local church is distinguished from a parachurch organization in that a local church is comprised of a clearly identified membership (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:1-3); is overseen and protected by qualified elders (Acts 20:17, 28-31; Tit 1:5-9; 1 Pet 5:1-3); gathers regularly for corporate worship, prayer and the reading and preaching of God’s Word (Acts 2:42-47; Heb 10:24-25); the celebration of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11:23-26; Matt 28:19) and practices church discipline (Matt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 5:1-5). Parachurch organizations are helpful to the degree that they see themselves, in philosophy and practice, as providing assistance to the local church. Therefore, we’ll evaluate our parachurch partnerships based on their view of the place of the local church.
What about mercy ministry? While there are examples of preaching without a record of mercy ministry (Acts 2:14-39; 14:1-7), there aren’t any examples of the practice of good works of mercy apart from good news of mercy (Acts 3; Acts 14:8-18). Thus, the Word must have preeminence in the mission of the church, though never to the exclusion of deeds of mercy.
There is no doubt the Scriptures are replete with the responsibility to mercy ministries. We believe mercy ministry is an essential component of being faithful to the Great Commission because it necessarily is the ‘observing of all that Jesus commanded us.’ In other words, to care for the poor (Prov 14:31; 19:17; 1 John 3:17-18), the hungry and thirsty (Matt 25:35; Ja 2:14-18), the needy (Ja 1:27; Phil 2:4;), and standing up for those who cannot defend themselves (Prov 31:8-9; Ps 146:9) is part of the discipleship process. Moreover, this is a God-ordained part of the process of getting others to see the goodness and glory of God (Matt 5:16), which connects to the ‘baptizing’ part of the Great Commission as well. However, our goal is to meet these needs of compassion in and through the local church. Practically, that means addressing the actual needs that exist in the community and working through the church to care for those needs. This will remain a high priority for us- to support mercy ministries as expansions of local church love for the least and the lost.
Who makes the final call on what we support and what we don’t? Because the elders are responsible for the doctrine, discipline, and direction of the church, it is their responsibility to ensure that all ‘mercy ministry’ efforts are consistent with Doxa’s theology and philosophy of missions. To help in this effort, the elders may appoint a ‘deacon of mission partnerships’ as necessary to facilitate the administration required. The deacon of mission would serve by facilitating the following: communication with the elders and development of a team to carry out associated responsibilities.