What is the Role of the Church in the World?

by Mike Ratliff

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

The “missional” mindset’s god is not sovereign. One of the “leadership” methodologies employed within this movement is to “shame” or “belittle” those who are not fully committed to a 100% effort to reaching the world as a Jesus follower through missional outreach of some sort. The following is an excerpt from the 2010 Exponential Conference sessions:

2010 EXPONENTIAL

THEME:  “Transformation”

KEY TEXT: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

BIG IDEA: Transformation begins when we love God and what He loves.

If the world was a village of 100 people… 67 would have no clue what it means to be loved by God and love Him in return
 20 would live on less than a dollar a day
 Most would be children without clean water and meal tonight

This was not what God intended life to be. He longs to see his children, his church, his cities, and this entire planet transformed. Planting new churches is the best way to reach the 67
 Planting new churches can revitalize the 20
 Planting new churches brings good news to children waiting for it

Transformation begins in the heart of one.

  • When what breaks the heart of God breaks the heart of a leader, transformation activates that leader and permeates the new church that leader begins.
  • When what breaks the heart of God breaks the heart of a church, transformation remakes that church and spreads throughout a city through new churches and life-changing ministries.
  • When what breaks the heart of God breaks the heart of a city, transformation marshals God’s resources and community assets to reach the world, meeting needs and impacting all people.

But first, transformation must begin in the heart of one.

Now is the time for transformed leaders to lead in the transformation of our churches and our cities.  The next generation of churches can no longer be satisfied with just “saving souls,” nor will it be content with “meeting physical needs” void of the love of Jesus. We can no longer be complacent about 67% of the world not knowing a love relationship with God in Jesus. We can no longer stand by and let 20% of our world goes to bed hungry and hopeless every night. Let us be churches that love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind; and our neighbors as ourselves. Let us plant churches and lead churches that experience and offer transformation

The mindset behind this sort thing has god that is not sovereign. It has a theology that is not biblical. It has a totally unbiblical understanding of what true transformation is and what its purpose is. This is not Christianity. It is a complete misunderstanding of the true role of the Church in the world. Let us look at some of these things biblically. Let us start with what is known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). I placed it at the top of this post. What is the Church to be doing until the end of the age? We are to be making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He commanded. He also said that He would be with us through all of this. Does it say anything in there about elevating good works ahead of evangelism? No, it does not. Yes, we should emulate our Lord in feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, et cetera, but these things should never replace evangelism and discipleship as the main thrust of the Church.

What about this word Transformation? What is that?

1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1,2 ESV)

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ, παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν, ἁγίαν, εὐάρεστον τῷ Θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν, 2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοός ὑμῶν, εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. (Romans 12:1,2 GNT)

Is this the same transformation that the presenters of the Exponential conference are talking about? This transformation begins with the believer being so enslaved to God that he or she is a living sacrifice in full worship of Him with his or her life. I think that this is what happens to all true believers who are truly regenerate as God draws them out of the darkness of self-focused religiosity to live for Him and His glory as the purpose of their life. I remember this very well when God did this for me in 2004. It was amazing. I have talked with many of you for whom God did the very same thing. It is extremely hard to describe. We know we did not do it ourselves. We know that we will never be the same again. However, we have also discovered that we can slip back into self-focus at times and it is so shallow, ugly, and empty that we cannot stand it for any length of time and we yearn for that time of repentance. This is the life of the one who is now a holy and acceptable living sacrifice, a slave to Him who is Holy.

Those who live this way also learn how to be transformed. This is done only one way. It is done by not being fashioned after this evil age, but are subjected to continual mind renewal controlled by God. This enables them to discern God’s purpose, which is good and well pleasing and complete. The Greek word used here that is translated as “transformed” is μεταμορφοῦσθε, This speaks of continuous or repeated action. The action is, of course the mind renewal, which is, of course, continual exposure to God’s Word, preaching, and teaching followed through with obedient serving.

This is the transformation that the Word of God is talking about, which, as you can see, is totally different from what the Exponential presenters are talking about. They have made up their own theology of transformation that has nothing to do with how God uses his Truth to transform His people so that they will develop the mind of Christ, to become more Christlike.

The focus of 2010 Exponential is not Biblical. They may use a lot of biblical words and biblical sounding jargon, but the focus of their message is anti-Great Commission so this nullifies their message completely. My brethren, please pray about this yourself. Ask God to show you the truth about this. If I am wrong or if you believe I have made a mistake in my exegesis in this then show me where I have done so by using Bible exposition. If you can do that then I will gladly repent.

In the meantime, my brethren, let us not forsake our Lord’s command to evangelize and disciple from all nations of the world.

Soli Deo Gloria!

18 thoughts on “What is the Role of the Church in the World?

  1. You have this correct, Mike.
    Thank you for exposing this Conference for what it is and contending for the faith. Amen.

  2. Another Amen Mike! It was 2004/2005 for our journey out of pentecostalism/PDL/Hybelism, and March 2010 for our journey out of a “missional” church – which still has great expository preaching, but is placing more and more emphasis on relating to the world through being missional, and tailoring services to a “17 year old unchurched male” demographic – true! It is a somewhat lonely road (when a lot of your friends are still in those churches) – but we would rather be on the “smaller road” that leads to biblical truth. ie the 5 sola’s!
    Your sister in Christ.

  3. Thank you, Mike for this. I knew there was something not right about “missional” but could not identify the fallacy. According to scripture, what you are saying is true. It is the individual transformation by the working of the Holy Spirit, not a mass movement or infiltration by a ideology. If this missional transformation mindset is not of God (which I believe it is not), then it is the spirit of anti-Christ.

  4. Mike,
    It seems to me that exponential’s heart is in the right place, but the mind is kinda mixed up. Confusing Commision with Caring. You are right about transformation. It’s not what they say it is. If they’d have used different phrasing, like “the love of Christ manifest” instead of “transformation” maybe not so bad.

    John J.

  5. John, perhaps they are also confusing what the true focus of the church should be. The Kingdom of God MUST be first. All must flow from that and that means saving souls.

  6. Hi Mike,
    I was listening to a sermon on line from a church in my town the other day. The guest speaker was there to talk of this very thing. He actually said presenting salvation to someone is not our priority—we need to be focused on saving nations. He also said when you provide needs such as food and housing to people, then you have earned the right to talk to them about Jesus. I have a friend who believes a lot of this and am having lunch with her today—so this is a good reminder to me to bring this up.
    Isn’t this like Dominion theology…like what the NAR is trying to get us all to believe?
    Or is this something different?
    God bless you richly today.

  7. Mike, I’m a Southern Baptist pastor and agree with you 100%. Was just wondering what your take is on the SBC’s “Great Commission Resurgence” that is being debated right now. I’ve been convicted that we are heading down this “missional mindset” path and away from what really needs to happen for us to truly carry out the Great Commission. Thanks in advance

  8. Jeff, yes, I agree with you. I believe the Great Commission has become hijacked by these missional mindset people. It is tragic, yet, to be honest, we really shouldn’t be totally surprised. I will be 59 later this year, but I never thought I would witness this in the SBC, but over the last 10 years or so I have been amazed at the increase in the elevation of the slippery slope of apostasy in our old denomination. I attend a Sovereign Grace Church in our area because there are no SBC churches in our area that are within reasonable driving distance from our house that have not either succumbed to Rick Warrenism or some other fad.

  9. Excellent post! The sad thing is, today, our church, parachurch and denominational leaders wouldn’t “get it”–that is what you are seeing, Mike., Our leaders are the ones who are selling us out. Most church elders don’t have a clue as to the “new” emergent-type of postmodern phiosophical thought that is flooding into our churches and Christian educational institutions because their leaders either don’t know themselves, or worse, they know but hide it so “they don’t upset people.”

  10. “I believe the Great Commission has become hijacked by these missional mindset people.” AMEN!!! They preach/teach “go ye make disciples of all men”….but what they really mean is we have to make God attractive to people so they will “accept him”..and if people are not accepting him, then it is the other “chriatians” fault, you know, the unloving, judgemental, BIBLICAL Christians…….and we are not fulfilling the “Great Commisiion”. Not only do they not really trust the sovereignty of God, and have hi-jacked the Great Commisiion, They have totally derailed Total Depravity. They refuse to believe and act on the concept that a depraved person, (AND THAT IS EVERYONE) truly HATES GOD, CANNOT love God, CANNOT hear God speak, CANNOT serve God rather than self, unless and until the Holy Spirit does the work in him!!!!
    The whole “false gospel ship” is based on man from stem to stern…….man’s goodness, man’s abilities, man’s understanding, man’s intellect, man’s feelings, man’s “responses”. It is indeed true that , ” Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful ; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened . Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools , And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man……….. Man has become the god of the universe and god is his servant, rather than God being the ONE TRUE GOD of the Bible, and man being called upon to serve HIM!!!

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