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We have been called out as the living embodiment of Christ in this world. That is our purpose – our reason for being, who we are. We have been sent out with a "great commission" (Matthew 28:18-20). This is our mission – why we are here. We have been placed in a particular place at a particular time. We know our purpose and mission (and are growing in our understanding of their implications). But how are we to fulfill those in the circumstances He has placed us? This is our vision – applying callings true for every church to our own unique circumstances (the times, the place, the needs, the gifts).

God in His grace raises up shepherds to serve His people by leading, nurturing, correcting, and protecting them. They are to prepare God's people for the work of ministry – giving appropriate guidance and encouragement.

God equips and calls all His people to serve within the Body and reach the world with the gospel of grace. They are to carry out the work of ministry. 

Need: A local church must have a mechanism for utilizing gifted member initiative while maintaining elder accountability.

Solution: "Ministry Teams"

"A ministry center consists of an organized group of individuals endowed with significant authority to design and carry out certain church activities within certain parameters and in line with the church's overall vision. A ministry center team, under the leadership of its chairperson, sets specific objectives to be accomplished. The team determines the particular programs and activities that will constitute its ministry. It decides how the funds allotted to its ministry will be allocated. It sets its own standards for evaluating its efforts and implements a regular schedule of self-assessment."

Mercy: Our God is a merciful God. He has demonstrated this in the mercy He has shown towards us and the call upon us to be merciful to others.

Evangelism: Our God has a heart for the lost. He has demonstrated this in reaching out and pursuing us and the call upon us to reach out and pursue others.

Fellowship: Our God is a relational God. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in eternal communion. We have been created in His image, according to His likeness. Thus, in order to be "truly human," we need not only communion with Him but with one another as well. And we have been commanded to pursue this.

In being merciful – Reflected in the callousness of our hearts towards those in need. Implicit in the commands to be merciful.

In reaching the world – Reflected in the indifference of our hearts towards the lost. Implicit in the commands to reach the world.

In reaching one another – Reflected in the superficiality of our relationships with one another. Implicit in the commands to peacemaking and hospitality.

Each of these struggles has, at its root, an inordinate love of and preoccupation with the self. That is to say, we are not merciful and do not reach out and do not reach in because we are selfish and have not really applied the gospel to these areas of our lives.

Don MacNair, The Practices of the Healthy Church (p.177)

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