We don’t go to Starbucks to be made into followers of Jesus. We go to Starbucks (or a hipster coffee shop) to buy a cup of coffee. We can’t buy accessories for the Christian life at the mall. We can't figure out how to improve our spiritual lives at Home Depot.
The church is the only place on earth where Christians are made. The church is exclusively God’s embassy for making disciples on this planet.
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 long been all the buzz, but it’s important to understand that we can't divorce God’s means from his mission. In other words, the marks that make a church are also the mission that drives 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 from Jesus 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 this whole earth. This is how Jesus is making disciples in his world.
Equipped with these means and through these means, God is building his kingdom. The same ministry that builds and maintains the church is also the same ministry that grows 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. This is where and how Jesus makes disciples.