When I first joined the staff team at the church in 2006 a few of us sat down together in a room and asked the question, “What is the purpose of this church?” We just couldn’t get away from the language of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28 and so ended up articulating the purpose this way:
BBC exists to reach people for Christ through word and deed and to disciple them to spiritual maturity so that they can reach others.
Three key elements in that statement stood out to me. Reach. Mature. Send.
We wanted to see lost people encounter Christ. We wanted to see found people grow in Christ, and we wanted those found and maturing people go and reach out to lost people. Reach. Mature. Send.
In 2011 we decided to simplify the purpose statement a little bit but to keep its’ essence and desired outcomes. It now reads:
BBC exists to make disciples who make disciples.
The three same elements are still there. For people to become disciples they need to be reached, then matured, and then sent to get others.
So how are we doing? If that is the purpose of the church, are we “succeeding”? On most days, I would say “no”, but God has been challenging my heart on this recently and at the baptism service we had last month I couldn’t hold back the tears as I felt the Holy Spirit was nudging me and whispering, “It’s happening.” I need nudges like this because I am something of a pessimist and I am also something of a perfectionist. This can be a dangerous combo, as one never takes the time to stop and look at the evidences of God’s grace all around you. So where are those evidences? Where are the signs that we are reaching, maturing and sending?
- It is in the stories of the 32 people who were baptized a couple of weeks ago. Some were kids, one was 87 years old. Some were rich, one was homeless. Some were rule keepers, some were rule breakers. They were all baptized in the same water celebrating the same salvation and declaring their same great and desperate need for that salvation.
- It is in the new spiritual appetite of those who have just finished the Bible 101 and 201 courses. Many entered into those classes not knowing where to start reading their Bibles. Many walked out of those classes now not wanting to ever stop reading their bibles.
- It is in the repentance and restoration that we see in counseling sessions week after week. Sinners, broken sinners, moving forward bit by painful bit.
- It is in the growing Gospel Communities where we are learning to pastor and serve one another in increasing measure in our homes. That is a big deal in the Northern suburbs where we retreat to our homes as our safe place.
- It is in the house that was built by BBC congregants for a widow and her children in Shongwe, Mpumalanga and it is in the volunteers who travel into Hillbrow weekly to teach orphaned kids about the good news of the gospel, and how to understand algebra. It is also in the volunteers who leave Bryanston every week to go into Kya Sands to show refugees that someone won’t give up on them.
- It is in the meals provided for families who are grieving and the stuff provided for young parents who have no idea how they will kit out their nursery for their new arrival.
- It is in the prayers said and the hands held at the top of aisles, at the foot of hospital beds, at the side of open graves as well as at the tables of great celebrations.
It is already happening. I just needed to open my eyes.
Reach. Mature. Send.
Let’s keep going.