To put it simply, missional churches “get it”—they understand what the Great Commission is all about, and they will do anything and everything to make sure the people in their surrounding communities encounter Christ by encountering them.
“Missional churches understand that community is best built by those in league with each other in the creative task of mission,” write Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch in ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church (Hendrickson Publishers). “They worship like crazy because they see God’s lordship over all of life. They disciple each other in order to be better missionaries. Mission is the spark, the catalyzing energy, that makes sense of everything the church was intended to be.”
This is certainly true of Scott Linklater, 32, and his wife, Hillary, who pastor the Expectation Church Network in Las Vegas (also known as Las Vegas Mountains Edge Foursquare Church)—a group of “simple churches,” or house churches, that conduct bi-weekly evangelism outreaches on the famed Las Vegas Strip. And they don’t work alone; they involve teams from other churches as they carry out short-term evangelism efforts and conduct discipleship training.
Just how many people has this small network of simple churches shared the gospel with? More than 100,000. You read that right—100,000.
“Approximately 40 million people, from all corners of the globe, come to Las Vegas each year,” Scott, the father of three, told Foursquare.org. “We put the gospel in as many of their hands as possible.”
In the last 10 months, the Expectation Church Network has shared the gospel with more than 110,000 tourists on the Strip. The teams hand out gospel tracts that look like giant hundred dollar bills. They frequently give these to groups visiting from China, India, Iran, Egypt, Israel, Palestine and many other dangerous or closed countries. With the help of Foursquare Missions Press, they now have a custom tract that not only shares a clear gospel message, but also contains information on how to plant underground churches.
“Every five seconds, six people die and will spend an eternity away from Jesus in hell,” the Foursquare pastor passionately explains. “Being missional is doing something about that, with what God has given you, in the place God has placed you, with resources and opportunities that are in front of you.”
John Wiley, 47, and his wife, Mary Jo—founding pastors of The River Christian Fellowship (also called Kansas City East Foursquare Church) in Raytown, Mo.—also believe in using whatever resources a church can gather to reach people in their community.
Their congregation of around 300 members recently purchased the long-vacant Park Lane Hospital building just north of Raytown, and plan on turning it into The River of Refuge Dream Center with a specific purpose in mind—helping the area’s “hidden homeless,” the working poor families who live at pay-by-the-week motels because they cannot save up enough money for utility and rent deposits, and don’t earn enough to qualify for food stamps or other governmental aid.
“Just this week, we helped a family of seven move out of a one-room motel into their own home,” says John, the father of three. “We met them at a pay-by-the-week motel nine months ago. They had been homeless for over a year. We purchased school clothes for all the children and helped them furnish their new home.”
And that’s just a part of The River Christian Fellowship’s missional activities. Every week, they serve a hot meal to 65 families trapped in the area’s pay-by-the-week motels. Every other weekend, they take 150 sack lunches to the homeless. Every second Saturday of each month, they send multiple teams throughout the city to serve other non-profit agencies.
This summer they provided lunch, every day, for children who had been on the reduced or free lunch programs during the school year—totaling more than 3,000 lunches. The church’s “Adopt a Block” ministry regularly conducts small home repairs for people who have received code violations from the city. The congregation also purchased a 2-1/2 acre park with a swimming pool and miniature golf course that was about to close down. They now operate it for the benefit of the entire community.
John sums up well what being missional is all about, and emphasizes the fact that it doesn’t have to be over-complicated or over-thought.
“Being missional is as easy as seeing a need in your community and doing something about it,” he says. “Radical missional thinking never allows for the ‘somebody ought to do something about that’ statement to go unchallenged. The assumption is that if we are in fact His representatives on the face of the earth and we see a need, our knowledge of that need thrusts upon us the responsibility of addressing the need.
“Radical missional thinking operates from the assumption that if I talk to God about what I see in my community, He will supply what I need to meet that very need,” John continues. “Missional thinking never forgets that the church is a prophecy—a future picture of His coming kingdom. A kingdom where all are healed, and every need is met.”
This is Part 4 in a series of 4. To read more about missional Foursquare churches, click the links below:
- Part 1: The Missional Church – What exactly does it mean for the church to be missional? And how does a missional perspective play out in the context of local communities?
- Part 2: The Missional Church – “Being missional is all about creating spaces for gospel conversation to take place,” says Steve Cecil, who planted a Foursquare church called The Journey Community in Madison, Wis.
- Part 3: The Missional Church – “To be missional means to do something, to do the work of the ministry,” says Pete Akins, pastor of True Life Center in Cedar City, Utah.
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles