When we first planted Liberti Church in Liverpool, we were full of excitement for our mission. You could say our missional furnace was burning strong. Our core team sold their homes and moved into the area. We launched our gatherings in the heart of our community and built relationships with our neighbors. We were experiencing exciting growth—but none of us could see what was around the corner.
Less than two years after we planted, the pandemic hit. It came crashing in like a wave through our young church, extinguishing almost all of our missional opportunities overnight. Fostering a church community online was difficult and limiting, but we made it through. However, when we were able to meet in person again, we found that, unfortunately, people didn’t return with the same fervor as before.
Compared to the early days of church planting when everyone seemed on fire for ministry, now the missional temperature of our church was cold. The post-pandemic need for personal comfort had bled into the culture of our church and was distracting our people from mission. I wasn’t quite sure how to remedy this problem.
Gauging the Temperature
I shared my frustration with a mentor, telling him our church had grown cold to the gospel and we weren’t experiencing any fruitful ministry. He allowed me to vent and then posed an unexpected question, “What’s the missional temperature of your home?”
I went to him seeking help on how to handle this struggle within our church, not for advice on assessing my home. But, in his wisdom, he turned my gaze to see the two cannot be separated.Like those in our church, I’d become accustomed to personal comfort, which distracted me and my family from our gospel-driven mission. My own missional coldness had affected that of our church. Click To Tweet
This question from my mentor arrested me. At first, I tried to find some winsome answer that would deflect the conversation back to the problems at church, hoping maybe he would just forget about it. He didn’t forget and continued to ask me to seriously consider his question. I knew he was leading me to see that the missional temperature of a church cannot be isolated from that of its leaders. The way we lead inevitably affects our church culture. Healthy leaders model behavior that encourages a healthy community.
Grace in the Cold
As I was increasingly frustrated with the lack of missional engagement in our church post-pandemic, I realized I’d lost focus, too. Like those in our church, I’d become accustomed to personal comfort, which distracted me and my family from our gospel-driven mission. My own missional coldness had affected that of our church.
For church planters and pastors, it’s easy to be overcome with guilt when our shortcomings present themselves. But I found immense grace in this cold season. Christ is at work in my weaknesses, and his strength proves perfect and unchanging in my faults. Liberti Church isn’t my church, it’s Christ’s church—and he’ll see his mission through.
Stoking the Flames
It was the grace of Christ that breathed air into our church’s smoldering missional embers. We can plan, strategize, and mobilize all we want, but unless we see that Christ is both the focus and the fuel for our mission, we have no hope for ministry fortitude. My family prayed together, asking the Spirit to bring afresh a passion for Christ and his mission in both our marriage and our home. Our church and leaders confessed, repented, and prayed—stoking the flames to spark newfound missional engagement for our community. We can plan, strategize, and mobilize all we want, but unless we see that Christ is both the focus and the fuel for our mission, we have no hope for ministry fortitude. Click To Tweet
Joy in the Heat
Healthy fruit grows best in warmer climates. As the missional temperature rose in our home and church, we began to see exciting things happen around us. Our dinner table was regularly filled with unbelievers engaging with the gospel for the first time. Friends who had carried pain for decades found healing on our couch. Church members met with people in coffee shops and invited them to know Jesus. Stories like this became common for our church once again, which reignited a joy to serve on mission together.
When there’s a healthy focus on mission in the homes of leaders, you can expect the same to be true for other families in your church. Missional culture is a high priority for church planters and pastors. It’s the joy of every believer to join Christ in his mission and enjoy the fruit as we go make disciples of all nations. It’s important to assess the temperature of both your church and your home, and be honest about your findings. If you find yourself in a season of coldness, there’s grace for you. Pray that the Spirit would fan the flame and ignite a fire for missional growth.