Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions On Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. Welcome to episode 27 of Missions on Point. We're in a series on keys to effectiveness as a missionary. This is our second in the series. This subject matter will deal with clear biblical vision. Just review a couple things. Here's the list of the series. As I present it, I want you to know this is not something that you can do with just simply a written checkoff survey. This is something that is observation of life kind of things, that talk about the qualities for keys to effectiveness. As a missionary. We started off with strong ecclesiology. Then we're moving to clear biblical vision, simple priorities, knowing the target audience, theological discernment, biblical knowledge, value for indigeneity of future vision, reproducible methodology, authority of scripture over man, practice and priority of prayer, stamina or durability. The priority of teaching or biblisism.

As I said in the first one, there are assumptions that were being made having to do with a strong Christian character and a track record of integrity, and godly reputation, good people skills. These kinds of things are prerequisites to even the qualities and virtues that we're discussing. Keys to effectiveness as a missionary, there are keys to effectiveness in every Christian's life in fact. Another admission in this kind of discussion is that these qualities are intertwined. There are relationships one to the other and some overlapping. So please don't be disappointed if we say some of the same kinds of things over the course of the various qualities. We trust that if a person is maturing in Christ, and passionate for the word of God in evangelism, that these qualities are going to arise in their life over time. Especially if they're nurtured and developed intentionally with that kind of a purpose as a missionary.

So clear biblical vision. What do I mean by that? What I mean is a clear end goal. A vision is a preferred future. What does the end look like? How will you know when you're done? It's informed with the Bible. It's informed by information, and principles, and guidelines that come out of the Bible. A clear biblical vision would be a preferred future that is discernible, definable, and is well-informed with biblical truth. So what specifically might that be? In our view, we would say it has to do with the establishment and development of strong, healthy, local churches. If it's church planting, it's starting from scratch, and all of the layers of development from evangelism, discipleship, leadership, training, establishment of the indigenous church, and then encouraging that indigenous church to plant other churches, and be involved in missions in their community and the world.

This goes along with Paul's ambition as recorded in Romans 15 for instance. It's his ambition to preach the gospel where it has not yet been preached. It's his ambition to see the gospel and the subsequent local churches developed around the whole Mediterranean two areas where it has not yet gone. For Timothy and Titus, it has more to do with specific development of leadership, and organization of the church, and unity within the church. Even that is identifiable as a clear biblical vision. Titus's goal, for example, is to organize the churches, and then leave and go to another place where they're not organized previously. Now, for the church planting missionary, there is a one-to-one correlation between a clear biblical vision, and the choices that this person makes on a day-to-day, week to week, month to month basis. How they spend their time and what they're doing, it has a deep impact on their strategies and methodologies with this long-term goal in mind.

For those that are in more support type ministries, it's at least one step removed. And yet the same kind of goal can apply. Whether you're an airplane mechanic, or a medical worker, or a community development person, you still want to have this clear biblical vision for what the end result is, guiding the things that you're doing day by day, so that through your work, we're seeing accomplishments step by step toward that clear biblical goal. Practically, I teach and coach missionaries with respect to this in showing it in their newsletters. If in your newsletters you can show the step-by-step progression of your day-to-day work, having a positive contribution to clear biblical vision for an end goal that makes sense, then your supporters and friends are going to love that and want to support you.

If you get mired in the details of all the stuff you're doing day to day, and don't keep that clear biblical preferred future in mind, then it's easy to get discouraged personally and your news flutters will reflect both your discouragement, and the lack of clarity of biblical vision for the future. And it's much harder for people to wrap their hands around that, and agree with that, and want to be partners with that. In general, you might guess from the Propempo informed clear biblical vision that it's going to have to do with development of local churches. Indigenous, reproducing autonomous local church bodies that are functioning without the missionary's oversight directly. Moving forward to produce other churches and reach their communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That would be a clear biblical vision.

Not everybody gets to work directly in line with that. But even indirectly, you should think about how your work contributes to that and frame your work in such a way that it does contribute to that end goal, the clear biblical vision. I must say that I regard vision that is short of that kind of goal as shortsighted. You may have a goal of evangelism, of discipleship, of bible studies, of all kinds of ministry activities. Whether that be camps, or outreaches, or how many patients you see, or how many flight miles you log, how much you help the mission's community in various ways. But if you don't link it to that kind of clear biblical vision, then you're being shortsighted. And often you may be off track of reaching that goal or helping to reach that goal simply because of not being thoughtful about a clear biblical vision for yourself, your ministry, the team you're on, and those that you're trying to serve.

For the missionary, the shortcoming often is a misleading pragmatism. And this can be driven organizationally by the mission sending organization, or the denomination, or the people you work with on the field or under authority of on the field, pressing you to come up with certain statistics. How many evangelistic pieces of literature did you pass out? How many evangelistic discussions did you have, or conversations? Or how many Bible studies did you lead? How many people were in those things? Keeping statistics as a matter of western style pragmatism toward the end goal can often blur that end vision. And then all of your work is spent in trying to produce the pragmatic results that are expected in the statistics you're supposed to produce.

It may seem to go well if you're on a responsive field where it's easy to gather people, and you're completely legal and legitimate in every way, with respect to calling people to evangelistic Bible studies, or speaking in public to others about the gospel. That seems easy. But if you're in a harder field where it may actually be illegal to conduct what the local authorities might call proselytization or worse, an enticement to proselytize, that is to change one's religion, then you're really in trouble. And pragmatism can really get you in trouble just because you're pursuing this purpose or this methodology, without having a driving clear biblical vision. There's another aspect that gets a little messy because missionaries tend to think that they're not really fulfilling that clear biblical vision unless they have every T cross, every I dotted with respect to what they think the end outcome is supposed to be. Whereas in most cases, they're starting work from basically ground zero, toward a biblical vision. And then the nationals or the target audience, the culture that they're going to, should be the ones who actually complete it.

To plant a church, it's not necessary to have graded choirs, and a full-blown Sunday school curriculum, and a youth group, and youth camps, indigenous music producing people in your congregation. All of those things are great, but they should develop out of the indigenous church with their leadership not imposed with a model from the West that says, "A planted church looks an awful lot like the one that I came from back home." So let's apply this a little bit back to ourselves on this side of the water, so to speak. A clear biblical vision is something that helps every church and every group of church leaders to keep their eyes focused ahead into that preferred future that is clearly and simply defined to be the end goal. Not the process in itself, not the methodology per se, not the series of strategies followed to accomplish that, but this is the picture of what we want to see. And it doesn't necessarily mean that it has to come with all the frills of what we might have expected from somebody else's church or some other place that we would deem to be successful.

A well-defined biblical vision clarifies priorities. And eventually works its way down into daily activities in which you can be confident. It helps you say yes to the right things, and it helps you say no to things that are less than that. One of the problems in Christian work is this good, better, best sequence. And sometimes the good and the better, fogs the best. And we don't choose the best because we're so busy doing the good and the better stuff. There's always stuff to do. There's always stuff to support. There's always activities that can keep you busy. But they're not always the ones that are the best for achieving and fulfilling that good future biblical vision. Does it sound like some of that can apply on an individual basis? You betcha. With me, day-to-day, I have to wrestle with what makes the most sense, what is the highest priority thing that I can do to achieve that end goal?

Oftentimes, I fail to choose the right thing and regret it. But when I do choose the right thing, meaning I have to say no to other things, I always am satisfied that that is the best thing that I could have done. It's amazing. It is absolutely freeing and refreshing to choose to do the right things, say no to things that are less than that, actually be more productive at achieving that good, clear biblical vision for the future. So what is the remedy for this? I mean, how do we get ourselves out of the rut of continuing to choose lesser things perhaps instead of having that clear biblical vision to drive toward? I think the basic principle is thoughtful evaluation based on biblical principles. Writing some things down, what is my clear biblical vision for the future? How can I achieve that best? And what biblical principles apply to drive that?

Perhaps the goals that I've chosen aren't clearly supported by the Bible, and aren't clearly arising out of sound biblical principles. I need to evaluate that with my Bible open, and the Bible pages turning to find the right kind of things. Not after the fact, supporting by proof text. But seeing what it is that God wants in driving toward that end. Those kinds of things are almost always better informed by godly counsel. So you don't decide it on yourself. You get the input and reflection of other godly people who want to have an impact on your future direction, your vision, and exactly how those goals stack up with the priorities of scripture. Then you've got a winning choice and a game plan that's going to help you develop the right methodologies and strategies to achieve that. And day-to-day have a grid at least mentally, if not actually, that helps you decide what's the best thing to do and what's the best thing to leave off.

That sort of brings us full circle. The reason it's important, a key to effectiveness as a missionary to have a clear biblical vision is it helps you make the right decisions. It helps balance all the sweep and tide of input from others to decide what is the right thing or the best thing to do, what are lesser things, and I need to just set that aside and not worry about that. It helps a missionary be more productive and effective at achieving good biblical goals for the future because of a clear biblical vision day-to-day.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Like I said, it's not something you can do in just like a written survey to determine how it works. But it is observed over time and it's practice even before the missionary gets to the field. So it's great to ask these questions of missionaries to evaluate, are they following a clear biblical vision? Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please preferably consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus. Forever and ever. Amen.

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