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Failing The Mission by Dave DeVries

Failing the Mission: Abandoning the Cross, Community or the Culture

DNA is crucial to the health and function of a body. It is also critical for the health and mission of the Body of Christ. Neil Cole warns against subtracting from the DNA. "If we concentrate on one part of DNA and eliminate any other part we will lose the whole of it; death and mutation are the result." (Neil Cole, Organic Church, 120)

Jesus sends every believer with the Cross in Community to the Culture. These Missional Distinctives are the critical DNA of the Church.


Divine Truth

Loving Jesus

Greatest Commandment

Mt 22:37-38


Nurturing Relationships

Loving One Another

Second Greatest Commandment

Mt 22:39-40


Apostolic Mission

Loving the Lost

Great Commission

Mt 28:19-20

When Christians fail to love Jesus, one another, and unbelievers simultaneously, the mission is thwarted. One of the contributing causes toward the Church's failure to fulfill this mission is that Christians are faithful to only one or two of these distinctives. Subtracting even a portion has devastating results.

Cross + Culture - Community =


Many times Christians become so frustrated with other Christians that they try to bring the gospel to the culture alone, apart from a local expression of a church. Connecting people to Jesus without connecting them to a local church family is like bringing a baby into the world and abandoning it. As a spiritual orphan, a new Christian is likely to become lonely, immature, and selfish.

As Josh Harris notes, when Christians abandon the local church, "everyone gets cheated out of God's best." (Josh Harris, Stop Dating the Church, 18)

  • You cheat yourself.
  • You cheat a church community.
  • You cheat your world.

Community + Cross - Culture =


Some churches are so internally focused that they neglect those in the culture altogether. Like the nation of Israel, they expect the surrounding nations to "come to us" if they want to meet God. Numeric growth in attendance is largely transfer growth, not conversion growth since the Christians have separated themselves from the negative and dangerous "culture." The lack of any spiritual reproduction can lead to a legalistic Christianity that is only a generation away from extinction. This failure to connect with the culture results in a missionless Church.

Culture + Community - Cross =


Some Christians are focused on being culturally relevant and meeting the needs of those around them with loving service, but they neglect the preaching of the cross. They get so busy serving and "being Jesus" that they fail to articulate the hope that they have in Jesus! This neglect of the gospel easily becomes classic liberalism or a social gospel. Without Christ and the cross, what is there? The YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army.

Yet this abandonment of the cross can also be seen in churches that cater to the consumer culture of today, adopting accommodation and comprise as the method of operation to attract newcomers. Once the gospel has been abandoned, salvation becomes something that is earned by doing good deeds.

The impact of neglecting any of these Missional Distinctives is dangerous.

Dangers of Neglecting the Culture


Dangers of Neglecting the Community


Dangers of Neglecting the Cross


Missionless Church

Churchless Mission

Dead Religion

Isolation and Separatism

Spiritual Orphans

Consumer Christianity



Liberalism: Social Gospel

"Come to Us" Mentality

Believing without Belonging

Belonging without Believing

No Spiritual Reproduction


Cultural Accommodation


Selfishness & Immaturity

Salvation by Works


"Parachurch" = Substitution

"Country Club" Mentality

However, when believers embrace the Cross while experiencing Community and engage the Culture, the Church is an unstoppable force! That is missional impact!

Download/Print Entire Article (PDF)


Organic Church

See also the articles:
A Missional Heart by David DeVries
The DNA of Christ's Body
The Secret Source of Unlimited Leaders
The DNA of CMA

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