Archive for the ‘News’ Category
2008 Muslim Background Believers Conference
September 26-27, Dallas, TX
Let Us Love One Another
Equipping Christian Leaders
for Ministry to the Muslim World.
“Dear Friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
Download the Conference Brochure
We would like to invite you to be part of what could be a life-changing
and eternity-changing training and implementation process
to see a CPM among the people you serve!
GCPN will in August 2008 release a web-based training that can be utilized by churches to train their own people for cross-cultural service. Panorama: A Broad View of the World and Your Place in It consists of 42 lessons to equip the cross-cultural servant for life, mission and ministry among a second culture.
This training is intended to be led by trained facilitators in a local church context. We will begin with 10 pilot churches which are currently sending or are preparing to send in the near future. These pilot churches will serve the network in the following ways:
· As the learning experience is designed to be wiki-mized in nature, these 10 pilot churches will play a major role in shaping the usefulness and adding additional content to the learning sessions.
· These 10 churches will serve as models for other churches which are called by God to enter the training process.
· As pilot churches, we ask that these churches be willing to serve as regional training sites for cross-cultural trainees in their area.
· These 10 churches will provide laboratories of learning that will allow learning in group context and practice in the areas of team development, ministry and mission.
The first Panorama Facilitator Workshop and Certification will be hosted by First Baptist Church of Arlington on August 14-15, 2008. Dr. Mike Stroope, Associate Professor of Christian Missions, Truett Seminary will lead this training session. Dr. Stroope has been instrumental in the content and design of the curriculum. See details below:
FACILITATOR WORKSHOP AND CERTIFICATION
FOR PANORAMA WEB-BASED LEARNING
August 14-15, 2008
Global Connection Partnership Network
First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas
301 S. Center Street
Second Floor Conference Center
Registration fee: $150
We recommend that each attending church send two facilitators.
Register here for the Facilitator Training.
For further information on the Panorama
or Cindy Wiles at 817.276.6494 or at 817.437.2514.
Together in Christ,
Through communication and conversation with mission ministers and leaders in the last couple of years, GCPN has identified three issues that need to be addressed by our network as we work together toward the common goal of reaching the lost:
- World-wide strategic structures and guidance for sending churches
- Cross-cultural preparation and training for church-based workers
- Collaborative giving efforts for strategic structures and shared sending
These are by no means the only issues, but they are essential issues that need to be addressed by churches venturing down the sending path. Thanks to the efforts of many of our network churches and partners, we are working toward providing some tangible answers to some of the complex questions.
The question, “Who will train our missionaries?” is a question that has historically received lots of answers. Most of the answers to that question resemble the response, “Write us a check. Send us your people. We’ll not only train them – but we will alleviate your church of the responsibility of training, strategizing, maintaining connectedness and partnering.” I think most of us agree at this point that we are not looking for the extraction of our called ones from our church bodies to live a separate life of missional service. Instead, mission sending has become more organic – less of a calling reserved for professionals and more of an outgrowth and extension of healthy missional bodies. Not only do we want to maintain connection on the field, we actually believe that God has equipped us with the ability to train our own people in a church and community context.
We have been channeling lots of prayer, thought and energy into equipping and training. What should training look like for a non-organization in the 21st century?
- The training content should be built upon collaborative input from many who have experience and knowledge of the subject matter
- The product should be easily and equally accessible to all
- The product should be wiki-mized so that it can be shaped and improved to remain current and applicable
With these goals in mind, GCPN is nearing the completion of a web-based learning experience for churches that can be utilized for training in a community context. These units of preparation are divided among 7 broad concentrations:
This preparation series is intended to be lived out in the community of local church and combines individualized learning with group facilitation and accountability. Each unit can be accessed by the individual group member for personal study and fleshed out in the context of a team or group meeting. Click here to view a sample unit. The first facilitator training for this web material will be led by Dr. Mike Stroope and hosted by First Baptist Church of Arlington, August 14-15, 2008. Our goal is to have 10 facilitators attend the first training from churches that are willing to serve as pilot churches. (Email the gcpn office to register or for more information.) Our prayer is that key churches will feel called to be area or regional training sites, eventually assisting other churches in this process.
Once you enter the room of web-based learning, there are many doors to further learning. We invite you into the room. The web-based curriculum should be available to all churches by late Summer 2008. We pray that this resource will be beneficial to you and to your church as you seek to prepare your own people for cross-cultural service.
Together in Christ,
If you have ever been through an experience of crisis, grief or change, you know there is a normal process that characterizes these sorts of experiences. Change of any magnitude is often followed by a sense of profound loss, feelings of anger, anxiety about the future
, and sometimes an overwhelming sense of responsibility regarding the challenges you’ve inherited. But eventually, you make the necessary adjustments required to function, you develop new habits of coping and finally hit a productive rhythm of life – a new norm
. In some cases you even find yourself grateful in retrospect for the change forced upon you. Although the transition was a difficult one, you find God intended it for your good. You may even learn to love your new norm
. As I was preparing to facilitate Stan Parks’ GCPN web unit entitled, World Christian Movement
, for the Arlington Training Site, one historical fact I noted was the missional paralysis of the church following the Protestant Reformation. After facing the conflict, persecution, political ramifications and losses required by the reform, the reformed church found itself in a state of missional paralysis. Because it was focused on crisis, missional efforts of the church were placed on the back burner.
That state of paralysis is where many Baptist churches have lingered for the last several years. A significant segment of the Baptist family has been in a prolonged state of grief. A scorned woman in my congregation once told me, “Divorce is a greater grief than death. I could accept my husband’s death – but I don’t know if I will ever recover from his rejection and betrayal.” I am amazed at the number of churches who are still waiting for things to be “like they used to be.”
Hopefully, most of us are no longer there. We have adequately grieved the loss of the IMB as our convenient and clean means of doing missions. We have recovered from the disappointment of broken trust. We have realized the answer does not lie in a new sending board with a similar structure. We have assessed the reality of our new missional life and realized we have to move on. The commission of Christ has not changed. The lostness of the world is still a looming reality and there are yet plenty of unreached peoples waiting on the church to bring the gospel message.
Realizing that moving on is a necessity, many churches have asked the question, “How do we learn from our missional past and face our missional future?” One of the beauties of the church is we do not have to answer these questions alone. We have each other. I find myself daily seeking the wisdom of pastors, ministers of missions and other missional leaders. Dave Bollenbacher at Cottonwood has challenged me to surrender practicality to spirituality. Mike Stroope has taught me to think strategically. Matt Sprink at Woodway has pushed me outside the box. Dale Pond has encouraged me to stay focused among the complexities of a large church. Scott B. has challenged my church’s faith. Jerry McAtee has modeled the importance of relationship. Bill O’Brien has encouraged me to embrace partnership. I could go on and on. But the truth is – collaboration and networking have become our new norm. What we must do, let’s learn to do well. What once seemed a painful and challenging new reality has become the unstoppable means for your church to take Christ to the world.
Let us encourage one another as we learn to thrive in our new norm.
Sharing the Hope in DFW
A one day event designed as an introduction to Islam, Muslim cultures, and ministry skills.
- Equip Christians with biblical attitudes and methods for evangelism so they can confidently and sensitively share their faith with Muslim friends.
- Aid in understanding Muslim perspective.
- Provide insight into the mindsets of Militant, Moderate, and Nominal Muslims.
Saturday, April 12th, 2008
9:00am to 4:00pm (lunch included)
First Baptist Church of Arlington
300 S. Center Street
Arlington, TX 76010
$35 individuals, $25 students
Please register online early as our speaker will mail participant notebooks in advance and we also would like to have a count for lunch.
Counting the Costs and Staying the Course
By Jerry McAtee, Executive Director,
Missions Together, Inc.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Peter exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from-if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel-that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again-well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.”
Acts 10:34-36 (The Message
, Eugene H. Peterson)
This remarkable text in Acts is a very simple yet sober reminder that “if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open”. This statement is loaded with responsibility, blessings and opportunities.
Visionaries can easily get many churches excited about assuming responsibility of sending missionaries to foreign lands to share the Gospel with those who have never heard. I love the visionaries; however, once they exit the scene, they leave behind the difficult work of planning and implementation. On the surface, all is exciting, wonderful and very spiritual. However, as we start unpacking the layers of meaning of the words “and are ready”, the message becomes somewhat more daunting and serious. What does it mean to say “and are ready”?
There are a number of things to consider before a church commits to the role of becoming the sending entity of missionaries from their congregation. The church must count the cost and be committed for the long haul.
It is essential that process and structure be established that will not be dependent on a pastor or key leaders if and when they leave the church. A missionary or a missionary family living in a foreign land should not have to worry about their church giving up, should unstable and negative circumstances evolve in the supporting church.
A strong, well thought out plan and commitment needs to be built around people in the church who will implement and maintain the process on a long-term basis. From the start, the church will want to seek God’s leadership in the selection of multiple individuals in the church who will be committed to supporting and continuing the ministry of sending missionaries. In the beginning, the list of potential committee members might be long; however, it will be pared down as certain characteristics are sought.
Committee members must have track records of sound leadership, stability, faithfulness and spiritual maturity. Each member should have a heart for missions and demonstrate a strong prayer life. They will have a history of “sticking” with a project long term and of demonstrating their ability to keep confidential information. Committee members will be opinion shapers in the church. As a former marine friend said, “They are the people that you would want in a fox hole with you”.
A church must consider the costs. Placing an individual or a family with children in a foreign setting requires that the church understand the responsibilities and the investment of time into the process from the start to the end. It will take a lot of hard work, prayer, time, money, meetings, networking, partnering, hard decisions, communication, vision, planning, networking, partnering, training, personal sacrifice and evaluation. Most of all it will take the ability to stick to the task for the long haul.
A comprehensive missionary candidate screening process is vital. No church does an individual a service by sending them to a foreign setting to live and work if the individual does not have the gifting emotionally, spiritually or physically to succeed. This involves physical and psychological screening. Granted, no system is perfect. However, with consistent and reliable references and experienced personnel to implement the process, the obvious issues can be caught early. Be prepared to say no to individuals who do not qualify.
A church will be well served to have crucial networking and partnering relationships in order to provide training to the missionaries. Subjects for consideration might include cross-cultural communication, vocational training, language learning, theological/ missiological training, strategy coordination/ implementation, team building, partnership, stress/ conflict management, marriage enrichment, family and group dynamics in a foreign setting, spiritual growth and networking. Support relationships can also provide technological support for international communication, technology and public information distribution regarding their mission work.
The congregation will want to work toward developing networking and partnering relationships that will enable placement of personnel in strategic foreign settings. Along with this, such networking can make it possible to connect their missionaries with local support groups in their country location.
An emotional and spiritual support group should be established for missionaries before and after they get to the filed assignment. Multiple meetings can be held prior to leaving in order to establish mutual support, love and respect. Ongoing communication between the support group and missionaries should continue using email, phones and other modern day communications methods. The missionary should be provided at least one or more points of contact on a 24-hour basis for times of emergency circumstances.
A vital part of the church’s networking and partnering consideration will be the need for an action plan that will meet emergency needs for the missionary family. There are excellent Christian organizations that can assist a family or individual during political unrest, medical emergencies and family emergencies of various types.
The sending church will need to design and implement a reliable process for receiving and distributing funding for salaries and projects for the missionaries. A credible and professional handling of all finances is essential for everyone involved.
Before the missionaries arrive on the field, accountability and reporting expectations should be agreed on by all parties involved. This will involve “reasonable” and periodic reporting to the supporting church and to those who provide financial resources.
When applicable, security guidelines should be developed and agreed on between all parties prior to the missionaries leaving their home country for their field assignment. In many areas of the world, secure communications becomes vital to safety and successful fulfillment of one’s calling. This will include, among other things, an understanding of how the church will communicate publicly about the missionary’s work.
There are other topics that could be covered, but this is a start. God expects us to be found faithful to the calling and complete the task set before us. May the Lord richly bless you as you prepare your church to send.
By Dave Bollenbacher, Minister of Missions,
Cottonwood Baptist Church, Dublin Texas
Jesus said: “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denari, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more? Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have answered correctly.’” Luke 7:41-43
The Luke 7 passage is not typically associated with “missional” activity. In fact, I can’t recall ever seeing the connection made. And yet, as I’ve given thought the last few weeks to the idea of the Church and her role in sending to the nations, I believe Jesus’ message of love and grace has much to do with a church’s desire to serve distant neighbors.
The church I belong to could easily be deemed irrelevant by most standards. We’re a 100 year old rural church, located in a two stop-light town on the outskirts of nowhere. Our facility is inadequate and inauspicious, with a pasture for a parking lot. One other thing, I go to church with a lot of five-hundred-dollar sinners, and most of us know it. I think it’s these last six words that have a lot to do with our passion for God’s glory among the nations. Because we have been forgiven much we are compelled to love much, and it is this love that propels us to cross streets, borders, oceans and cultures to share the Good News of Christ.
In his classic work Key to the Missionary Problem, Andrew Murray writes: “Get this burning thought of ‘personal love for the Savior who redeemed me’ into the hearts of all Christians, and you have the most powerful incentive for missionary effort…. If we could fill the hearts of the people with a personal love for this Savior who died for them, the indifference of Christendom would disappear, and the kingdom of Christ would appear.” In other words, an impassioned love for the King would result in an impassioned love for the Kingdom!
Last year I don’t believe our church met our general budget of approximately $500,000, but we gave nearly $225,000 for our mission efforts. We sent over 100 people deep into Mexico’s Copper Canyon, when “our neighbors” were dying from crop failure. This year we will send and support two families and one single to serve long-term among distant neighbors, while three other families from our Body have been sent abroad with the assistance of other sending agencies. Over the last 7 years we have sent between two and three hundred of our people to serve long-term and short-term among an unreached people in Asia. This year we will begin a long-term commitment serving a Muslim people in Africa.
Sharing this information is not to boast of our mission efforts, or to impress you with a “mission program”. We are well aware that God does not need us! I share it as evidence of people, who have been forgiven much, and who are loving much. An acute awareness of the grace that has been extended to us motivates us to share the same message of grace with those who’ve yet to hear. When a love for God is the motivation, the work of missions is transformed from an obligatory task of a chosen few to a cherished invitation extended to all who have been forgiven.
Too often we hear “missions” being spoken of as a task to be completed by “missionaries” who have received a special job offer from God (i.e. “calling”). Perhaps when missions and missionaries become more about loving God than undertaking a program or accepting a job, we will see the Church respond with greater fervor for the nations.
In part, we identify with the twelve chosen by Jesus because of their fallibilities. They were screw-ups like us, and after three years of doing life in close proximity to Jesus, they were exposed! But they were sent by Jesus, and their love for Him compelled them to go. They would change the world. A five-hundred-dollar sinner who lived naked and chained in a cemetery, experiences the grace and forgiveness of God. And what does Jesus do? He sends him! A woman, who has gone through 5 marriages and is currently shacking up with someone, must go and tell because she has encountered a caring, loving and accepting God. These people could not be restrained from saying a resounding “YES” to the invitation to go. Because they had been forgiven much, they loved much, and because they loved much, they were sent.
This list of “chief sinners” could be expanded, but you get the point. The activity of missions is not for the elite and holy few. Inevitably, it will also not be for those who have failed to be undone by a life changing encounter with God. When a love for God has transformed a church, it is no longer about missions or becoming “missional”; rather the focus becomes a longing for God’s glory among all people.
John Piper had it right when he said in his book Let the Nations Be Glad, that missions exists because worship does not, and thus the worship of God becomes the fuel for missions. The shift in thinking here is a significant one. If love for God is the catalyst for sending and going, no longer is the motivation for missions some foreign land or distant people who are without hope, but our great God who is without worship. Our greatest joy becomes the worship of God, and thus we must share.
John alludes to this in his first letter. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life- and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us- what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” (Italics mine) 1 John 1:1-4
John, and others like him, had experienced the grace, forgiveness, and intimacy of a loving God. After seeing Jesus, hearing Jesus, and touching Jesus, they couldn’t help but go and tell of Jesus. It didn’t matter where or at what cost; sharing Good News became not a task they were obligated to perform, but a response birthed out of thanksgiving and complete joy. Their witness for God was preceded by a witnessing of God. Having come to know Jesus, they were propelled to go and share Jesus. These early Christians were radically effective in their witness of Christ, both at home in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth, not because of a desire to be “missional” for God, but because of their desire to be “relational” with God.
A church that does not have a desire for knowing Jesus will care little about sending others to share Jesus. The Church in the West is largely marginalized when it comes to sending, because church has become more about self than Savior. Walk into any “Christian” bookstore and most titles will be about how one can have better kids, a better marriage, better finances, and a better you! Devotionals that spur us on to “5 minutes a day with God” leave us feeling pretty good about our spiritual pursuits, and a whole section of Christian fiction introduces us to characters with a spiritual vibrancy reserved only for the world of make-believe. Unfortunately many churches provide a weekly sampling of similar offerings.
Perhaps we shrink from intimacy with God because of the risk that is involved. Five-hundred-dollar sinners who are unable to repay have to be willing to be exposed, and the Body of Christ has to be willing to provide a community where it is safe for such exposure to take place. Such exposure can be messy, but receiving and extending grace fosters community, and community in turn gives birth to intimacy – with God and with others. We are created for community! Christian community is critical to sending and being sent. The endeavor of missions void of community is dangerous. I have seen firsthand the destruction it leaves behind. Walking honestly before God and others won’t happen cross-culturally if it is not happening in Christian community.
We are set free by knowing that we are forgiven by a loving God and by realizing the extravagance and cost of that forgiveness! It ignites a love for God that unleashes us to know Him and make Him known. It creates within our hearts a joy and thanksgiving that propels us to send and be sent, so that others might taste of the same goodness. The King and His Kingdom become paramount. As a community of faith, we become zealous for the worship of God, not just with our own lives, but the lives of others who have yet to worship truly. Forgiveness sets us free to live honestly before others in communities that spur us on to love and to do good deeds.
The heart of a church that sends must first be undone by the forgiveness of a loving God. May we avail ourselves anew to an intimate encounter with Him. Forgiveness sets us free to have a loving relationship with our Creator. May the Body of Christ become consumed with the desire to be relational with God instead of missional for God, and let us see where the resulting intimacy sends us. The Psalmist wrote: “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10) Interesting how a heart for knowing God results in Him being made known among the nations.
By Cindy Wiles, GCPN Executive Director
January 2008 has been a great month of fellowship, conversation and collaborative effort among our network churches. I am grateful for the efforts of the ministers of missions, pastors and others who gathered for the recent Forum for Sending Churches and the GCPN Pastors’ Retreat. Through these fruitful discussions, we were able to identify three primary needs of our network churches:
1- Strategic Guidance and Structure
Churches desiring to do effective mission work understand that doing strategic missions requires an understanding of what God is doing in the world. It also requires the guidance of informed leaders who can help churches connect to what God is doing. One goal of the GCPN network churches is to enable mission strategists and missiologists to have a voice and presence among our churches as we make decisions about missions and specific missions initiatives. In addition, we are working to identify or develop 12 regional GCPN Strategy Teams around the world to assist churches in making strategic connections, placing their people on the field, encouraging indigenous movements and assisting with integration and care of our sent-ones.
While you are thinking about what your church is doing, also be thinking about what THE CHURCH is doing.
2- Missional Formation
What fills the formation gap that exists between missions education (like Perspectives) and preparedness for being sent? GCPN leadership is convinced that it is an intentional church-based formational community within each of our local network churches.
In response to this essential need, we are focusing our efforts on a missional formation learning experience that allows individuals preparing for cross-cultural service to live out their formation in their home-church community. This facilitator-led experience uses a comprehensive series of 33 learning sessions, each focusing on a relevant formative need. Participants combine personal study and journaling with interactive community learning in such a way that the individuals and the church are led through a joint transformation that raises the overall missional competency of the congregation. The formation series is intended to be lived out over approximately a one-year period meeting weekly with a community of church-based participants. The materials will be downloadable from the GCPN website for use by network churches. Two trained facilitators from the local church will lead the community groups through the transformational experience. Written by missions experts from around the world, the materials are scheduled to be available to churches in the spring of 2008.
3- Collaborative Giving
If local churches are training, funding and sending their own people, why is there a need for a collaborative giving effort? We must maintain what is beautiful and Biblical about collaboration. As we work toward providing a global strategic structure that will benefit all of our churches, we will establish hubs for shared training, missionary assessment and care, and strategic guidance.
While I am focusing on what MY church is doing, I will be wise to consider the big picture and assist in providing a strategic framework for all.
Additionally, the New Testament collaborative concept of sharing the financial responsibility for sending should prod us toward jointly making funds available to other churches that may need assistance and partnership in sending.
As we work together, gaps can be filled and the Kingdom can be expanded. Think Kingdom. Think together. Think about how your church can fuel the works of God around the world.
I am praying for you and your church!
by Dale Pond,
Minister of Missions, Green Acres Baptist Church of Tyler, Texas
“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” II Corinthians 5:17-20
I want to consider what I believe to be the primary task of the church. It is the most dangerous, demanding and exhilarating task that the church has been given. It is the task of taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and of helping people to faith in Him. It is what is called the missional task of the church. Let’s be honest in admitting that this task no longer exhilarates us. It doesn’t stir us and challenge us. Most of us give very little for the accomplishment of this task. We are so unlike the New Testament church. The New Testament church did not have beautiful buildings, educated and trained leadership, modern ways of communication, literature, or elaborate organizational structure. Yet those small bands of Christians literally turned the world upside down.
Why is it that the missional task of the church exhilarates us so little? I believe one reason is that we do not fully understand why the missional task of the church is the primary task of the church. We do not have an adequate rationale, an adequate basis, an adequate understanding as to why this task is at the very heart of the church. Some would tell us that the reason we are to be missional is because of the Great Commission. Of course we believe in the Great Commission. But unless we have a deeper rationale for evangelism and missional activity we will grow weary in hearing the Great Commission. In fact, we have already grown weary hearing it. How many of our church members hear this command of Jesus and it doesn’t even faze them?
Some would say the reason that we are to be missional is because of the great need, the sin and lostness of our world. Certainly we need to recognize the needs of our world. Our hearts needs to be broken. But unless there is a deeper motivation and rationale for evangelism and missional activity, even the awareness of the great need is not enough. In fact, the awareness of need can be overwhelming and depressing. If a person serves the Lord for a lifetime, when their life is finished, the need and lostness of the world will be greater than when they started. An awareness of the need is not enough rationale for the missional task of the church.
What then is the reason that this task is at the heart of the church? I believe that God’s Word (II Corinthians 5:17-20) explains why we must make the missional task the primary task of the church. The missional task is primary because God Himself is on a redemptive mission in the world. Verse 19 says, “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ.” Centuries ago God in his wisdom, sovereignty and infinite love set Himself on a course of redeeming sinful man to Himself. God purposed it in His heart and began to act in history to reconcile and save sinners to Himself. He chose Abraham for that purpose. He gave Abraham a son named Isaac. He gave Isaac a son named Jacob. He gave Jacob twelve sons. These twelve sons went down into Egypt. God sent Moses to deliver them. God gave them the law which was a way for them to know Him. And then through the centuries God worked with those people. God gave prophet after prophet. And then in the fullness of time God sent his only begotten Son into the world who lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, rose again and ascended to the Father. Then God sent the Holy Spirit to anoint the church and baptize the church. When the time came, God gave the Scriptures, the written Word, so that we could know Him. And then down through centuries God has acted in people, in circumstances and events. God has set Himself on a mission to redeem sinful man to Himself. Therefore if we are to be about the same thing God is about, we too will be about reconciling sinful man to God through Jesus Christ. It has been said, “The origin of missions is ultimately to be found in the heart of God.” A church that is not consumed with the task of reconciling sinful man to a Holy God is missing the primary purpose of the church and has misunderstood what God is about in Jesus Christ in the world. It is failing to understand God’s intention because God’s intention is to reconcile man to Himself.
Also, the missional task of the church is primary because God has entrusted this word of reconciliation to us. God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself is the work of reconciliation. That’s the gospel. That’s the good news. Verse 19 says that this message, this word, has been committed to the church. The word “committed” means that we have been put in trust. God has committed it to us. He has put this word of what He has done and what He is about in our trust. The Apostle Paul often spoke about being entrusted with the Gospel. He said in I Corinthians 9:16: “When I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” He said in I Thessalonians 2:4, “We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.”
The missional task of the church is primary because we are Christ’s representatives. It is because God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and because God has entrusted us with that word that we actually become representatives and messengers for Him. Verse 20 says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.” This is one of the most incredible truths in the entire Bible. God has set Himself on a course. God has done something for this world in Jesus. The truth of what God has done has been entrusted to us. He has chosen to use us as His instruments. He actually uses us. We are His representatives, and He speaks through us that people might understand and accept God’s reconciling mission in the world.
This is the basis for the missional task. I do not know why, but God has chosen to use us as instruments of reconciliation. He has chosen to use the church and I believe that we should take that privilege and responsibility very serious.
What about your church? What is God’s vision for your church? What is it that God wants to accomplish through your fellowship of believers? Can your church answer that question? Churches should examine themselves and look at the steps that they take and make sure that they are walking down the path ordained by God. Each congregation should focus their attention, energy, and resources as a church on one primary vision of being a missional church. A missional church is a church that seeks to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Acts 1:8 is the blueprint. “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
A missional church is one that prays for the whole world. It’s a church that not only preaches the Gospel and carries the Gospel to the world, but it is a church that has in its heart the world and lifts that world to God in prayer. Jeremiah 33:3 is the blueprint for missional praying. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
A missional church is a church that shares its resources with the world. All of the resources that have been gathered and given to the Lord are to be shared with his world. They should not be kept only for the local church but should be given to the world. And it is the same for human resources. Churches should give their members to the world. II Corinthians 9:7 is the blueprint for this kind of missional giving. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
We should all pray that God would grow missional churches. Pray that God would create awareness among the people in our churches of this privilege and responsibility. Pray that God would rise up countless numbers of people who would take seriously the responsibility of ministering, serving and witnessing beginning in their local communities and then to the world. Pray that God would challenge churches to specific, attainable goals in missions giving. Pray that God would stimulate an attitude of expectancy, an environment of confidence, of belief that with God all things are possible. Pray that God would bring to our churches people from all over the word that have had different kinds of experiences and are being used by God in ways that are totally different than what they experience in their own community. Pray that God would move the leadership of our mission organizations to teach missions and pray missions as never before. Churches need to strategize and plan every activity in their church around the one primary goal of taking the Gospel to the world. I believe it is in the heart of God and in the will of God to use His church as an instrument in His hand and an instrument of reconciliation.
I also believe that it is in the will of God to use individuals as His instruments. It is the will of God to use you and me as instruments in His hand. You and I as individuals must take seriously the fact that God wants to use us as His witness. God wants to use you as a witness. God wants to use you in your business, in your classroom, in your community. God wants you to witness out of your own life and experience and out of you own love for Him. And as you do, He uses you and you become a part of an ongoing, reconciling mission in the world. You become a part of a task that God has set Himself on. You participate in it. Would you make yourself available to Him?