Welcome to Missions On Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.
I am so grateful that you're listening to episode 156 of Missions on Point. We are very thankful for people who listen and learn and share with others what they're learning from missions on point. I try to rarely say anything that is off-topic. However, I feel like I should say today with this release, we have been producing and releasing new material every week for three full years. I praise God for that opportunity and for the ministry it is to so many churches, church pastors, church missions leaders, and even missionaries who have responded and said, "Thank you so much for what you're doing on Missions on Point." So I want to say thank you so much today, dear listener, for following, subscribing, and supporting missions on Point so that we can continue to do this ministry.
Today's topic episode is on mobilizing the whole congregation in missions. It's part of a subseries on restoring missions in the local church, or I like to say repatriating missions to the local church in the larger flow of a book I'm working on to be released later, and these episodes are preview of the content chapters of that book, on the centrality of the local church in missions. If you've been following, you know that we did our first eight episodes on the biblical content of the centrality of the local church on missions. Now we're working on practical content on how this plays out in a local church. The one main idea I want to wrap your hands around is the idea that the mission structure, that is the missions team, the missions committee, the missions board, whatever you may call it in your local church, their main task is not to do missions on behalf of the church.
So missions leadership, even pastors and elders, are not trying to do missions and decide everything in missions on behalf of the whole body. Obviously, in the mechanism, there are some features which they must decide and they must have responsibility for, but the whole goal of their ministry is to mobilize the whole congregation in missions, and we'll talk about that. So one of the first questions to ask is what does a missions mobilized congregation look like? What are their features? How could you tell if a congregation is really mobilized for missions? One aspect is that every congregant or member is a world Christian. Well, what do I mean by that? A world Christian is someone who aligns their life for the sake of the gospel and the Great Commission. It means that they know that they have a part in it. Every Christian can pray, so every Christian should pray for missions in an informed way.
Every Christian can give something of their means or time or talent in a way for stewardship in mission, so they have a role in stewardship even if they're not a goer. And then we would say every Christian actually has a role in missions in the local sense to be evangelistically active. They live their life for the gospel in such a way that people around them know that they're Christians and that they are more than willing and take opportunities and initiative to have gospel conversations, gospel bible studies, invite them to gospel events at the church or surrounding the church. They are living their lives in light of the Great Commission, in light of the gospel. They are world Christians.
The result of having a missions-mobilized congregation is that pretty much every member is aware of and taking action on being a missions minded Christian. They know their roles and they step up to do it. To be honest, there are some impediments in people's thinking to that. A lot of people think that Acts 1:8... Just to remind us, I'll read that. This is the words of Jesus recorded in Acts 1:8, "But you'll receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." A lot of Christians just automatically think, I'm in Jerusalem, so I'm going to do Jerusalem. I'm going to do where I live. Just my friends, people that are like me, that's my Jerusalem, and even the church as a whole should be concerned about winning their Jerusalem for Christ, so to speak.
The problem is the grammar of the verse isn't that way. It is not a sequential thing. It's not, "Do everything you can in Jerusalem and then think about Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth." It is simultaneous. They are ands. They're conjunctions that are equal. It is, "Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." So people in your congregation, including your church leaders by the way, need to have that figured out, that the Bible teaches that there is this simultaneous nature of going out into all the world. That doesn't mean that everybody in the church distributes themselves geographically equidistant around the globe. It does imply, however, that the church needs to have specific strategic focused relationships and prioritization of missions in such a way that they are actually consciously and intentionally working toward reaching people in those different segments.
There is this general awakening to missions responsibilities for the church leaders, the church missions team, and the whole congregation, and what I'm arguing today is that the church leadership team, whether that is the elders or a designated group of missions team, missions committee, missions board people, are responsible for communicating that and providing opportunities for that to happen with the congregation. The missions team creates opportunities and education and inspiration for the congregation to actually do their biblical role as a church. That means there's action at the grassroots. That means that people in the congregation should be encouraged to develop cross-cultural relationships with people locally. They should be encouraged to participate in the support, encouragement, and even visiting of missionaries, helping them with short-term trips that are organized by the church to do specific things in the ministry of that missionary over there.
It also means that the church has an awareness that they are building a pipeline or a channel through which church members can be equipped and sent to be missionaries along the lines of the strategic focus and priorities of the church. I've said this before and it doesn't hurt to say it again. You don't just allow church members to get excited about a particular type of ministry and then expect that the church is going to support that and go off and do it. There is an equipping, nurturing, focusing kind of ministry that the church does to send people out that are in alignment with them in every way and not just to do whatever comes to the mind of church members.
There are other ways in which the missions team can focus those kinds of energies and in initiative locally, in conjunction with the church, that are in line with the church's goals and relationships. It would be a rare church that doesn't live somewhere within reach of a metropolitan area or a larger ethnic or immigrant community in which they can reach out, learn how to minister in that context, and for the sake of the gospel and missions and missionary training begin to have a regular ministry in that place. That would be the Samaria kind of place.
Mobilizing the whole congregation and missions means that the church leadership, the elders, the missions team, understand and take responsibility for the training and equipping of missionaries that come from their congregation. It's generally just not good enough for the church to assume that the missionary training institution, like a Bible school or seminary, or the mission agency actually does enough preparation and equipping to fulfill all of the kinds of qualifications that we see are needed for long-term ministry in a cross-cultural mission field. You can learn a lot more about raising up missionaries and their qualifications in episode 153 and some other episodes of Missions on Point, or you can go to sendforward.org website or propempo.com website and learn a lot more about the details of what it takes for a church to mentor and follow along with the development and equipping of a missionary to be sent out to the field.
The main point is that the church is involved with a goal and vision for raising up new missionaries from their congregation, whether it's a small church or a large church. One could argue that a large church has more potential, but I would argue that per capita, medium and smaller churches actually do more in the hands-on nitty-gritty of stewardship and producing of missionaries. Years ago, as a mission field leader, I used to say that I would prefer a missionary raised up in farm country to a missionary raised up in a megachurch in an urban context, and the reason is just very practical. Farm country guys in general are creative. They know how to make things. They know how to think creatively about things. They know how to use tools. They're more self-sufficient. Urban people raised in an urban setting, in a megachurch, often have a lot of assumptions that haven't been trained out of them, and they aren't necessarily creative. They expect a lot of things to be provided for them the way it is in a more urban context or a more affluent church context.
I say this tongue in cheek, but it has some truth to it. You know you're in trouble when someone visiting the mission field or coming as a missionary, even a short term missionary, immediately is looking on their phone to see where the nearest Starbucks is. Fast-forward 40 years, and I would say I would take either one of those guys, but I would make sure they're trained really well. For any church, nothing has more potential to ignite your church and sharpen your mission's vision than getting skin in the game by having your people, people that were raised up in your church, people that have relationships with your church. This is very much a representative of your church going to do what the church cannot do in mass to see churches planted where there are few or no churches existing now.
Practically, mobilizing your whole church means that you begin to infuse missions teaching from the Bible through biographies and through practical example, and exposure to missionaries through all of the age groups of your church, through all of the ministries of your church. Teach your musical people some great mission songs to lead the congregation in. Teach your children to know and appreciate things about the world and the privilege they have of knowing the gospel and sharing it with their friends and seeing people, even children from other cultures, come in contact with the gospel. Promote and use great missionary biographies to challenge people to their own spiritual growth, as well as their connection to world missions. Expose them through missions trips that are designed to give them that kind of exposure and appreciation to real missions life, not just to paint a building or put a roof up over a tribal church meeting place, but to actually interact with and respect and love the missionary who is sacrificing to live there and understand their whole living condition.
For some people, that may mean that they feel a special tug from the Lord to move in the direction of missions, and that you pour fuel on the fire. This mindset even translates in a very practical way for how you receive ethnic visitors into your congregation. Whether they're from Asia or Latin America or Africa, maybe they're ethnic people in your own community, you've got to be full of gospel grace and warmth and welcome for them and train your congregation to do that, and they will have their eyes opened to greater ways in which they can be used for the Lord and for the gospel, both locally and across the seas.
Another practical aspect is prayer. If you are informing and injecting opportunities and information for people to pray for missions and missionaries in very specific ways, it starts to get more real to them. It's on their heart. It's on their lips. They're looking for where are the answers to those prayers? Therefore, of course, you need to have regular and somewhat frequent communication with the missionaries that you support to fuel those prayers, to let them know what are the newest requests or challenges and what are the blessings and answers to prayer that God is giving them because of your congregation's involvement.
It is absolutely in line with this concept of mobilizing the whole church and missions that you have some sort of annual event in which to highlight missions biblically, practically to give more specific prayer to missions, and to encourage this kind of pattern in families' home devotions. Recommend great books and resources for them. There are websites as well as printed materials and digital materials and videos that you can use to stimulate more missions awareness and involvement. By God's grace, as we mobilize our whole congregation of missions, we will see a whole new generation of missionaries raised up and sent well from local churches all across the land.
Thanks for joining us today on Missions On Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at propempo.com and missioserve.org. We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
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