The missional church movement, in which I really believe, emphasizes that starting churches (and all other missionary activity) is grounded in the sending nature of our triune God. Yes. Absolutely. There is a lesser conversation, however, about the origins of that sending/church planting activity in relationship to the whole character of God. We plant churches out of who He is, and not just what He does. Here are at least a few attributes of God that help explain.
1. He is Love. Our God sends because He is love, and in light of that love, He cannot help but draw people to Himself. His love motivates, activates and fortifies me to start churches so that others may realize His love and long for His embrace. We love enough to do the hard work of church starting because love is becoming our identity in Christ and it breaks our heart to see millions of people who are blind to Him. Church planting is a response to God’s great love.
2. He is One. God’s very Being must be one, and if He were not, then He would not be Holy, and would not call for a holy people. If He were not One, He would be broken, as humanity is broken. God has an eternal plan. Everything and every dimension of relationship that was broken at the Fall is part of His redemptive plan in Christ. Mission happens as those who are being redeemed enter into God’s intent for the wholeness, integration, holiness and oneness of all He created. We are sent out of and for the purpose of oneness.
3. He is Light. Light is revealing and transformative, able to intercept and dispel darkness. Jesus is the light of the world and calls us to allow His light in us to shine brightly before others. The churches we plant are called to conformity with light, and we too are called to intercept darkness, engage our communities transformationally, reveal Christ and make Him known. Multiplying churches helps to shine light in places that desperately need light.
4. He is the Creator. God is creative by nature. He creates in His image and places His creative Spirit inside of those who know Him. The creative, even entrepreneurial, capacity we look for in those who start churches exists because He is the Creator/Creative One and not because of our own creative genius. What He creates, He calls good. It is life giving and beautiful. He starts things out of nothing, and church planters start things because they are created in His image.
5. He is relational within Himself. God is the Creator-Community of Father, Son and Spirit, and He demonstrates the potential of churching within His triune nature. The church, in its glory, is an example of the beautiful mystery of relationship within the Trinity. It is an opportunity to practice relationships that demonstrate love, oneness and the very nature of God. He is the image of unity in diversity, and the world longs to see humans truly play that out. Will we?
The missional church is the church that demonstrates the character, and therefore the activity, of God in the world.