My experience is that it’s unrealistic to expect everyone in a church to be equally missional, just the same as it’s unrealistic to expect everyone in a church to be equally pastoral.
What then should the focus of a local church be? Should it be sending or inviting? I think churches are called to do both. That they are called to invite people who are within their reach and send ambassadors to those who are beyond their reach.
Here is the sending process as I see it:
- Recognise that your church is NOT culturally inclusive for everyone
- Send ambassadors to neighbours beyond the cultural reach of your church
- Seed the gospel in a way that makes sense to culturally distant neighbours
- Plant churches around persons of peace who respond to the gospel
- Invite people from their culture into this new church, not the sending church
- Repeat the process, for both the mother church and the daughter church
This does not mean sending churches cease inviting people. That’s unsustainable. But it does mean recognising the limits of an invitational strategy, and letting go of expectations that the missionaries in your midst should be inviting everyone they engage with back into the sending church. For if the great commission is to be fulfilled in your city, it will only be through equipping and sending cross cultural workers to go to where they are needed, to the culturally marginalised, and expecting nothing in return except partnership in the gospel.