The Missional Mandate

A call to believers and pastors to reclaim the missionary thrust of the gospel throughout the United States and beyond.

Being convinced that there is no salvation apart from faith alone in Jesus Christ alone according to the promises of God in His written Word, we must aggressively proclaim this gospel message to every man, woman and child so that they have a clear opportunity to respond in faith to the grace of God.

Why does your church exist? If the only purpose is to perpetuate business as usual, then you are committed to mediocrity. If your church hasn’t grown this past year through the salvation of non-believers (and not merely the transfer of Christians into your church family), you have forsaken the mission of your church. You have allowed yourself to be marginalized by your failure to grasp your primary mission as the church of Jesus Christ and by your failure to align all the activities of your church with Christ’s mission.

For the past 20 years, denominations across America have taken significant steps to start new churches. Yet we have failed to see existing churches orient their activities to fully embrace this vision. Why hasn’t this happened? It’s because most churches exist for the wrong reasons. Instead of putting maximum effort and resources toward reaching lost people, churches focus on the symbols of success: more people, happy people, and more money.

The rapid expansion of the gospel is the key to becoming a disciplemaking “movement.” It’s not about how many churches we start, how much money we raise or how happy (healthy) these new churches are. Those are the wrong standards. Churches must repent of the sin of self-absorption and church-centeredness and turn away from these secular measures of success. Christians must reclaim the missionary thrust of the gospel and proclaim the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ to every man, woman and child within their neighborhoods and community.

Our mandate is to fulfill the mission of God! The only hope of the world is the saving grace of Jesus Christ! And the only hope for Christ’s church in this world is to unashamedly and uncompromisingly proclaim this hope of salvation.

Churches must not view the planting of more churches as the main objective. In fact, this falls miserably short. Church planting is merely the means to an end, which is the radical transformation of lives by the power of the Holy Spirit through the cross of Christ! Don’t view methods (sending missionaries and planting churches) as the reason for your church’s existence.

I want to unite with leaders, churches and Christians who choose to be missional! I want to be a part of a network/movement of Christians that are compelled by the Great Commission and can’t get reaching the 300 million people in America off their minds
How can we fall so short of Christ’s mission to make disciples that we’re tempted to define success as more churches, more money and healthy churches? Success for the church in America can be nothing less than the complete evangelization of the United States, and ultimately the world! When will we commit ourselves to do absolutely everything it takes to achieve this mission? Until we do, we are not going to become a missional movement.

If we network together as missional Christians in missional churches that are driven to proclaim the gospel to a clearly exegeted community with the love and compassion of Christ, then lives will be transformed – and other missional Christians and missional churches will be drawn to join us, partner with us and sacrifice together to pursue the mission!

Salvation brings radical life transformation! That’s what Jesus introduced to His followers and expected after His death and resurrection. Somehow and somewhere the focus on the power of the Gospel to transform lives has been lost in America. Are lives being transformed in your church or are people simply adapting themselves to Christian norms that result in a happier life but not a holy life.

I was told that I can’t expect every church in the denomination where I have served for the past 17 years to become missional or even every district to become missional. I want to strongly protest such an idea. If we are a denomination of churches “on mission” – sent by God to reach a lost and dying world apart from Christ, then we must expect all churches (every single one) to become missional. To fail to expect this of every local church is to settle for mediocrity and to abdicate the responsibility we have as the Body of Christ to partner together in reaching the lost.

I believe that God longs for each pastor and each congregation in America (and around the world) to embrace His mission here on earth. Missions is not simply what we do overseas. It must be part of the DNA of every church. Being a missional church demands that the people of the church see themselves as God’s sent people. If churches are not defined by God’s mission, they will fail to fulfill their God-given mandate to make disciples.

I invite churches to reclaim the mission of God as their primary directive/mandate as a church. This requires that a church will exegete its community and proclaim the gospel with urgency to their given geographic context. In doing so, missional churches are so compelled to reach every man, woman and child with the gospel that they focus energy, people, resources and prayer on this priority. Missional churches develop creative strategies to accomplish this objective. Missional churches choose to network and partner and pray together with other churches and leaders and individuals to advance God’s mission.

What could happen if churches started making evangelism/discipleship their #1 priority – instead of church planting or teaching or worship or fellowship? What if every Christian in every church was equipped to share their faith story in personal and practical ways? What if people became Christians so frequently that new believers were getting baptized every week? What if Christians were making it a priority to spend time with their neighbors so that they could proclaim the gospel? What if every member of every ministry saw evangelism as their priority and not simply the pastor’s job? What if everyone in your church understood that they were “on mission” with God and found meaning and purpose in fulfilling that mission?

I believe churches would be more missional if they stopped taking responsibility to “do evangelism” by offering seeker-services and encouraging members to invite their friends to “come to church” so that they might be saved, and then they started training every Christian how to not only trust in Christ for their salvation but to actually understand how to communicate the gospel message with the power of the Holy Spirit? What a difference this would make.

Jesus told His disciples that He came to seek and to save what was lost. That was His mission! He told His disciples to make disciples. That is our mission! He has sent us to be witnesses. He didn’t send us to plant churches – that is not our mandate. He didn’t send us to build His church – that is His job. He sends us in the same way that his Father sent Him – to accomplish His mission. The mission of the church is to make disciples of non-disciples by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. Every Christian needs to know the mission of God and then participate in God’s mission. When this starts to happen across the nation, the church will truly be missional!


Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
10 replies
  1. spamthewunderdog
    spamthewunderdog says:

    It almost sounds like you are advocating and “either Church” or “either missional disciple making”. Can it be a “both-and” discussion?

    I plan to be involved at some point in helping to birth a faith community (Church) for the express purpose of leading and training others to disciple. But we will be hearing the word of God preached (the first 3000 in Acts 2 responded to the preaching of God’s word), and will be gathering to worship and share the feast as well.

    Are we saying the same things?

  2. DaveDV
    DaveDV says:

    Yes, it is a “both-and” discussion. I think we may be saying the same thing. The key to being a missional church is to view every member as a missionary – and to train members (when the church gathers and throughout the week) to be on mission.

    Jesus launched the church with disciplemakers! It was his intent and design that the church would be making disciples who make disciples who make disciples…

    Unfortunately, too many churches focus on the weekend worship service as the main event – rather than on disciplemaking. Services are designed for outreach, rather than for equipping members for mission.

    I envision the church as God’s sent ones who are embracing the cross, experiencing community, and engaging the culture where they live with the gospel message. May God bless you as you seek to birth a faith community that fulfills God’s mission!

  3. Terry M. Goodwin
    Terry M. Goodwin says:

    Great post Dave. I am finding out what is required to turn people to a missional vision – only God can do it. With that said I must emphasize how more discussion like this is needed. We need leaders who are so dissastisfied with “Lazy Christianity” that they have the nerves of an apostle to confront the masses.

    Spam – the sermon you mention was an “in your face” confrontation of a misguided religious community. Peter says “you nailed Him to a cross” “God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified”
    We need more people “preaching” like Dave does here. I meet many Christians that want a Savior and very few that want a Lord.

    I start in the same place with all my disciples – daily spiritual disciplines. Sounds basic but I find that people can proclaim Christ for decades and never get this into their lives. I believe if we all focused on getting our disciples to start here, no matter where you go to church, God will help us become more missional.

    Proclaim the truth with boldness like Dave does here and then connect them to God through daily spiritual disciplines – what an exciting time to be a Christ follower!

  4. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    Spam – we will connect soon! A key point to remember is that the New Testament Church emerged and Peter hit em over the head with convicting Truth and people repented that was great. But, remember no one built a building they just made more disciples who made more disciples.

    Peter preached but the movement of disciple-makers was much more effective. I’ve decided I don’t need to preach a sermon because my life is a sermon and God gives me opportunities to share everyday and the where, when and what is never revealed until God leads the way.

  5. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    Dave – This is a message for every Christ follower. It is everyone’s responsibility to make disciples. I appreciate your honest and unashamed declaration of this convicting truth.

    The problem: Many Christ followers don’t believe it and will never believe it. We should expect every church and we should expect and “get in the face” of every believer so they also know what Jesus expects of them personally as well.

    If the American church would finally decide that making disciples and not building churches is the main thing, you (we) would not be able to control the movement of disciples making disciples. As disciples make disciples God does build the Church the way He does it and not the way we do it.

  6. spamthewunderdog
    spamthewunderdog says:


    True, they did not build a building. But do we know why they didn’t? No, not really. I would specualate that it was because they were under the thumb of the Roman government, and that because of their Jewish heritage still had a respect for the temple. But would they have built a building? Maybe…maybe not.

    The point is that they purposefully gathered together. They sought a common location (Solomon’s Colonade) and they committed to meet there.

    Sometimes when I listen to you guys I feel like you don’t believe in that part of the picture. I could be wrong, have been before, and wouldn’t be the first or last time that I was…

    But when I hear you guys speak on these blogs, what I hear you saying is that discipleship equals “go”…and thats it.

    Now, I would say that “go” is the least on most people’s minds, and is certainly the last thing that the Consumer Church thinks of. But “go” isn’t the whole thing.

  7. Rick Dugan
    Rick Dugan says:

    Spam – If you visit Peter’s home in Israel you will see that they had a room dedicated to worship even though it was in a house. Prior to the fall of Jerusalem there were also synagogues of Christ-followers. James actually says, ‘When someone comes into your synagogue …’ – not church or meeting. There’s evidence that early church meetings were similar to synagogue and shabbat meetings. The church also had liturgical elements from the earliest days.

    When I lived in Jordan, ruins of a church building were found in Aqaba that pre-dated Constantine by a generation or two. It was on the outskirts of civilization, so it wasn’t a threat to the ‘conventional’ religions of the time.

    Of course, buildings have become somewhat of a prison and a distraction in contemporary evangelicalism, but all the talk against buildings, sermons, etc. may simply be addressing a symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself.

    I was involved in house churches for about 5 years and found them highly dysfunctional and authoritarian. Simply moving locations and getting a secular job doesn’t solve all the problems.

  8. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    Spam said, But when I hear you guys speak on these blogs, what I hear you saying is that discipleship equals “go”…and thats it.

    The Planter, Sad for the assumptions. Really, we teach the real cost of following Christ. Following Jesus is a huge commitment and we do not make it easy. Jesus described a huge cost in following Him and we teach the same. As you get to know us you’ll see a stronger commitment to making disciples who make disciples who all reveal the cost of following Jesus and it is more than just going to church or serving inside of her.

    The world longs for a departure from the easy to an engagment with a high cost of followership. The lost want the real and not a cheap whimpy substitute. The unreached are more ready than we think to make a high cost decision to follow Christ and much more than the average pew sitter ever will.

    SPAM – don’t miss this. Disciples are the ones who walk in the footsteps of Jesus and you know what that means.

  9. spamthewunderdog
    spamthewunderdog says:

    Rick, That was exactly my point. They were intentional about their gatherings, using and creating space where they could. They didn’t really build buildings persay, or give them fancy names…but they were intentional in a way that the house Chuch movement of today is not.

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