The words, sent, send and sending, are used 283 times in the New Testament. Here are just a few of those instances:
Luke 10:3 (NIV)
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
John 20:21 (NIV)
Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."
John 17:18 (NIV)
As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
Luke 9:2 (NIV)
…and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Matthew 9:38 (NIV)
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
Seems like, sooner or later, we would catch on to the fact that we Christians are people on a mission and that the church is to be more about sending than gathering. In JD Greear’s book, GAINING BY LOSING, he compares the church to three different types of ships.
First, there is the CRUISE LINER, offering great programs and services for the whole family. People show up at church asking, “Can this church improve my religious quality of life?
Will I like the music and does the pastor preach entertaining messages that meet my needs?” And if the church ever ceases to cater to their preferences… well, there are plenty of other cruise liners in the harbor.
Then, there is the BATTLESHIP. The church is made for mission, and its success is measured in how loudly and dramatically it fights the fight. The role of church members is to pay the pastor and staff to find the targets and fire the guns each week as they gather to watch. They see the church’s programs, services and ministries as the primary instruments for achieving the mission. A little better than the cruise liner, but not much.
The third metaphor is by far the best, the AIRCRAFT CARRIER. Like battleships, aircraft carriers engage in battle, but not in the same way. Aircraft carriers equip planes and prepare pilots to carry the battle elsewhere. Aircraft carrier churches equip and send their members to where needy people are. Their members learn to share the gospel in the communities where they live without the help of the pastor.
If we are really going to assault the gates of Hell, we’re going to have to become aircraft carrier churches. It’s not about gathering and counting; it’s about raising up and sending.