The Sending Culture of a Healthy Church

I suspect most pastors would not want their kids to live in their house forever. At some point, the little munchkins need to move out of the basement and into a home or apartment of their own. So, if families are okay with sending their kids into the world to be productive adults, why are churches so reluctant to release their sons and daughters?

Every healthy church has a sending culture. In Acts 13, the leaders of the fellowship had been fasting and praying, when the Holy Spirit instructed them to send out Paul and Barnabas for a really important assignment. I imagine the leaders recognized these men were promising young leaders who could help them build a big church in Antioch if they would stay. But these leaders had something better in mind, something more eternal. I imagine Paul and Barnabas had already discussed their possible transition with the leaders and what we read in the scriptures was the beautiful result.

Leaders must allow their team to talk openly about transition, without the fear of being punished. We all say we are for the “kingdom” until one of our best leaders wants to leave for good reason, like a marriage. If the family is the mirror of the church, then we should celebrate when our sons and daughters are dutifully betrothed to another ministry assignment. Instead, most us treat Godly transitions like a divorce and make our teams feel shameful for even thinking of leaving.

The Antioch church was limited in their geographic knowledge, but they did rightfully discern that they were not the center of the spiritual universe. By releasing these two young men, millions heard the gospel, churches were planted, and the kingdom really did come to the earth. If they had refused to release them, I suspect most of us would have never heard of the church at Antioch.

I want the team I serve with to feel appreciated, protected and loved. I also want them to know that if God decides to use them in another city, church or country, I will stand alongside them like a dad. I will cry at the wedding, but I will also be glad they have moved out of my house and will soon be starting a family of their own. I can either be a grandfather or a divorce attorney – its my choice.

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7 Comments

  1. Agreed, Brady.

    I might also add that just as the church should be encouraging the going out of healthy adults, it has the responsibility (like parents raising children) to be equipping them specifically for that task.

    This, I think, is what Paul is getting at in Ephesians 4:11-13.

    Thoughts?

  2. Brady, imagine if New Life became known throughout the city as the church that actually lived out the Great Commission by commissioning EVERY member into 18/7/365 Kingdom servanthood?

    (Matthew 28:18ff And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”)

  3. Hi Pastor Brady, I have been studying this passage the past several weeks, so I would like to add some additional comments. These leaders were prophets and teachers, and ,”As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” What has struck me, is the order here. The word ministered here comes from the Greek word “leitourgeo” which has the meaning of fulfilling an office, officiating as a priest, and describes the Aaronic priesthood functioning in the priestly role. These leaders were ministering to the Lord as priests, and out of this function The Holy Spirit spoke. As a royal priesthood, I believe our first function is to minister to the Lord, everything else will line up when we acknowledge that He is Head over the Church. Great post, and I whole heartedly agree…..all spouses, friends, children, ministry positions, etc… belong to the Lord first, so we must yield to His leading….some are sent and some are removed from our fellowship through death. True sons and daughters are led by The Holy Spirit not by self serving motives…..Rom 8:14

  4. Really nice article dude :)=

  5. I LOVE this! I don’t know why this is my first visit to your blog. Looks like I’ve been missing out!!

  6. I think one of the half truths of church growth teaching is that healthy churches grow. That’s half true. I mean I’m healthy but at 57 I don’t want to grow anymore!

    I think a better insight is what you are saying, healthy churches reproduce. They plant churches, they launch missionaries and so on.

    Good post

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