The church is the only place on earth where Christians are made. It is God’s embassy for making disciples on this planet. We don’t go to Starbucks to be made into followers of Jesus. We can’t buy accessories for the Christian life at Home Depot. The only place to go for Christianity is the church. And from the church a community of witnesses and disciples rises up from the preached Word, baptismal waters, and covenant meal to be a light in the midst of darkness. The word missional has been all the buzz, but it’s important to understand that we cannot divorce God’s means from his mission. In other words, the marks that make a church are also the mission of the church. And the mission is the marks. Let me explain.
Wherever the gospel is being preached, the sacraments administered, and the flock shepherded, the mission of the church is faithfully being carried out. Matthew 28:18–20 (the Great Commission) and Acts 2:42 outline for us that preaching, sacrament (“breaking of the bread”), and church discipline are the marching orders of Christ’s church on earth. Equipped with these means and through these means, God is building his kingdom. The same ministry that builds and maintains the church also expands the church throughout the world until Jesus returns in glory. So the audible Word (preaching), visible Word (baptism), and edible Word (the Lord’s Supper) are themselves not only vehicles of mission but also are the missionary event. Visitors and worshipers gather together to meet with the Triune God to hear, see, and taste the gospel. Wherever these things take place, God’s church exists and his disciples are being made.