Posts Tagged ‘Missions’

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The Living Witness: The final stage of missions…

April 4, 2012

The Living Witness

The previous sections have largely been focused the substance of the great commission found in Matthew 28:19-20 applied through the organization of Acts 1:8.  We have focused on going and making, but now we shall focus on living.  In Acts 1:8 Christ addresses His followers prior to His ascension into Heaven.  He does not give them a commission, rather He provides them with a prophecy.  He states, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…” This “witness” here in the text refers to testimony.  A testimony given in a historical sense about past events; and a testimony lived out before others, that these historical events have a powerful impact on life.  This is not a request on Jesus’ part, rather He is promising that this will occur when the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon His followers.  Where His power is, one cannot help but testify to its effects.

The New Testament provides us with a picture of this power lived out, through evangelism, preaching, church instruction, even martyrdom.[1]  Followers of Christ are commanded to preach to those who have not heard, in season and out of season, the Word of God.[2]  But believers are also commanded to conduct themselves in such a way as to demonstrate an active faith, one that is above reproach, a faith protected from error.[3]  Going into the nations is useless and will have short-lived results if it is not mirrored by a true witness.  Making disciples is nearly impossible if it is not done by displaying a witness what is being taught impacts more than the mind.  Living out a witness is little more than testifying through word and action that my heart has been changed by the grace of God.  He has revealed through His Son: who I should become and who I am.  These truths have affected my life, directed my worship and grounded my hope in the future.

When we are faithful to live this witness before the world, we fulfill God’s command to obey Him, love our neighbor and glorify His name among the nations.   To the extent that we are faithful in this, surely the knowledge of God may cover the earth, as the waters cover the seas, a flood of His glory through the mission of His church.  Lord, may this be done in us.

See Missions Pt 1
The Going …
The Making…

[1] The word for witnesses in Acts 1:8 is where we get our word for martyr.  A martyr is one who literally bears witness of their devotion to Christ through the willing sacrifice of their life for the sake of their testimony.

 [2]Romans 10:17-19; 2 Timothy 4:2

 [3] James 2:17-25, I Peter 2:16-17, Colossians 2:8

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Disciples in the Making: the Who, the How, and the Why…

March 30, 2012

In the last two posts we have examined the mission of the church, the going into the world, the making of disciples, and the living witness.  In this post we will go deep on Making Disciples, and examine the who, the how and the why behind Jesus command to make disciples of all the nations.

Even a cursory reading of the great commission in Matthew 28 shows that the center of the commission is not on going but rather making.  Jesus commands His disciples to make disciples.  To go into the nations, “baptizing them and teaching them all that I have commanded.”  To often though the church has missed this simple distinction and has settled for merely going and telling, while neglecting making.  The aforementioned pattern in Acts though reflects the fact that the disciples did not make this mistake.  They established a church where they were, proclaimed the gospel, saw growth outward, and established other churches throughout the known world.  This is why we will endeavor to do the same; become established, proclaim, grow, and establish other congregations.  To do this we will focus on the “who” of discipleship, the “how” of making disciples, and finally the reason “why” we should carry out this command.

Who do we Disciple

Discipleship is missions in micro.  It is the proclamation of the gospel and the instruction of believers in the ways of Christ; moreover the progress after the proclamation.  Just as the mission of the church starts close and radiates out, so too does our discipleship.  Those who call upon the name of Christ have merely begun the journey.  There is a vast difference between believing on His cross and taking up your own, and in that gap rests discipleship.  Discipleship begins in the home and for a believer should radiate out from there.  For our purposes we will focus on four categories Family, Friends, Neighbors and Nations. Discipleship is teaching and modeling; the life of Christ, the plan of God, and His character revealed in both.  This must begin at home.  Our church will focus on training men, women, husbands, wives, and parents to in turn train their households.  The nuclear family of the home and the corporate family of the church then should work together to disciple the remaining groups through missions and church planting.

The Flow of Discipleship:

(The Church)                                (Missions)

Church + Families –> Friends, Neighbors, and Nations

How we Disciple

For the church or Christian engaging in discipleship the substance of that teaching is key.  And while the whole of Scripture is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and encouragement, Jesus provides His church with a ready-made catechism in His Sermon on the Mount.  In the Sermon (found in Matthew 5 through 7), Jesus informs His followers how they are to become; who they are to be; how this should affect their lives; how it should direct their worship; and how it grounds their hope.  His teaching is both the Truth to be believed and the behavior to be followed.

The Sermon for discipleship:

Instruction                                                Focus                                  Verses

How to become…             Blessed (knowing and cherishing God)               5:1-12

Who we are…                    Salt and Light (impacting the world)                  5:13-16

Affects our lives…            Pure Heart, new boundaries                               5:17-48

Directs our worship         God is focus of Prayer, Fasting, Giving                6:1-34

Grounds our Hope            A life lived this way is built on a rock.                7:1-29

Following this pattern demonstrates that we seek to make disciples, not merely count converts.  The goal is to instruct the families of our congregation and then partner with these families to disciple the wider world through missions.    Having examine who we are to disciple and how we disciple them we now will focus on the reason behind our discipleship.

Why we Disciple

God’s people have always had a mandate.  Even in the Garden, those who bore His image were commanded to be fruitful and multiply that image and through that multiplication dominate the earth.[1]  As God’s new creation through Christ we have much the same command.  As we are being conformed into the likeness of His image through discipleship, He commands us to go and preach so that others will come to know and resemble Him.  This command may seem elemental, perhaps even passé, but its weight should be felt not ignored.  For our response to it, either in obedience or rejection, displays our attitude in the face of the risen Savior.   Like those who came to see Him after His resurrection there were only two responses: one either worshiped with hearts burning at His word, or one wavered doubting Him to His face.  We shall endeavor to mirror the former, rather than the latter, so that our worship lived out may serve as a witness to others.  In the next post we shall conclude by examining our witness for Christ which we are to have among the nations .


[1] Genesis 1:28

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The Going: The Where, When and the Why…

March 29, 2012

Part 2 of the missions proposal series.

Read Part 1 Here

There is a cycle throughout the New Testament in regards to the growth and proliferation of the gospel.  The cycle reflects a certain pattern of evangelism consisting of four repeating steps; establish, proclaim, grow, establish.  First a church is established through the gathering together to believers.[1]  We see this in the days after Christ’s ascension as the disciples and followers of Jesus gathered together, literally in a room.  The church in Jerusalem has all the marks of church of God.  Believers gathered together, the spirit moving in power, discussions and a focus on the life and works of Jesus, and finally proclamation to the community.  This leads us to the second pattern within the cycle, proclamation.  The word and the glorious good news of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to the community.[2]  As God is faithful to the proclamation of His word, growth inevitably follows in some form.  The third pattern is growth, souls added to the rolls of the kingdom through the faithful proclamation of the gospel.[3]  This growth is followed again by the further establishment of the church and the devotion to discipleship and proclamation of the gospel, followed by growth and so on.[4]  This pattern would be repeated through out the Mediterranean as the Apostles and disciples of Jesus spread out into the cities of the Roman world.  Jesus commanded that they go to Jerusalem, Judea and “remotest part of the earth,” and they went.  So to must we obey and go, first to our locale, then to our nation, then on to the world seeking to establish a presence, proclaim the gospel, grow the church and establish future planting churches.  We will now focus practically on the where of going, the when of going and the reasons behind why we go.

Where to Go

It shall be our goal to follow the example set in Acts 1:8, to start in the neighborhood and then move to the nations.  Ministry whether local, national, or international, is merely the reflection of the heart of those engaging in it.  Proximity is key.  It is no accident that Christ ties our words to our heart, as the two are so close.  So too our witness should begin with those in greatest proximity to us, as an outflow of the heart of our worship within the community.  The church should be engaged with its community on a weekly basis.  In addressing increasing engagement out into the wider world to reach the nations, I propose the following scale; tying activity and scope to church size on a yearly basis.

No. of Members            No. of Trips                    Destination

Less than 50                1                                     National

50-100                          2                                     National/Int’l

100+                              3                                   2National/1Int’l

250+                              5                                   3National/2Int’l

The scale might seem ambitious to some and perhaps underwhelming to others, and should be viewed as suggestive not compulsory.  It represents an honest effort to focus a church their mission to the nations regardless of their size.

When to Go

The frequency of missions activity within a church may vary based on past experience or prior goals.  Below is my proposal for the frequency of mission activity, with the understanding that local mission activity is ongoing.   It is also important to note that this scale is meant to start at year 1 of a church and progress to year 7; or start afresh a cycle in a church that has not been active in missions.  The goal would be to have local, national and international activity occurring by the end of year 7.

Years                    Destination

1-3                            Local (while developing national targets)[5]

3-5                            Local/National (while developing Int’l targets)

7-beyond                 Local/National/International[6]

 

Why Should We Go

The chief end of man is to glorify God, the chief end of the church is to facilitate that glory through the work of His Son and the obedient worship of His children.  God blesses his chosen people so that His glory might be known among the nations.[7]  His people make His glory known by obeying His commandments; to love Him with all their heart, soul and mind; and love their neighbor as themselves.[8]  If we call ourselves Christians, how can we not obey God in this, going where He commands we go, and loving whose He commands we love.  A church absent these features, has little claim to its title.  In addition to going we are commanded to go with a purpose, to make disciples.


[1] Acts 1:12-26

[2] Acts 2:14-36

[3] Acts 2:37-41

[4] Acts 2:42-47

[5] The purpose of this initial local focus is to train the church in discipleship, attempting to provide a sure footing to then launch out into extra-local missions.

[6] It is understood that this chart and the previous chart tied to church size would be read together, one interacting with the other.  Some churches may be in a position to expedite this schedule, while others may need more time.  The ultimate goal is a robust focus on getting the gospel to the nations.

[7] Psalm 67:1-5

 [8] Matthew 22:37-39

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Go, Make, Live: a Three Part Approach to missions

March 28, 2012

A Series: Part 1

Throughout history God receives glory through the propagation of His name.  In Genesis, man is created in God’s likeness and told to multiply and subdue the entire world, so that the world might be under the dominion of those bearing His image.  In the Psalms we see that His people experience blessing and mercy so that His “way may be known on earth, [His] salvation among all nations.”[1]  Likewise we see in the prophets that His chosen people experience judgment so that His name might be known.  In the Old Testament God uses the judgment of sin as a means to proclaim His holiness and glory.  God judged the entirety of sinful man in the flood, but saved Noah to proclaim His salvation.  God judged Israel’s sin of idolatry by overwhelming their cities with enemies and scattering their families across the land.  The prophet Habakkuk proclaimed that these judgments were used, like the flood, to fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, “as the waters cover the seas.”[2]  Despite sin, despite fallen man, God continually redeemed a people through blood sacrifice, and commanded that they go and make His name known among the nations.  The greatest expression of His mercy of redemption is seen through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross.  At the cross, God joined together His judgment and His blessing into one act of sacrifice.  This is the ultimate expression of God’s love for mankind that He gave His Son, as the propitiation for our sins.

Christ absorbed the flood of God’s wrath of judgment at the cross; and He became the vehicle of greatest blessing to the whole of God’s people.  Those who bore witness to this event were tasked with the mission to proclaim this judgment and blessing to ‘Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”[3]  The story of God’s blessing and judgment must now fill the earth through our lives lived in reflection of God’s glorious work through Christ on the cross.  To this end Jesus commanded His disciples and by extension all of us to, “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.”[4]

As a Church, we will reflect His mission with this statement of purpose:

That we will continue to proclaim His name; Going according to His will and for His glory to our neighbors and to the nations; Making disciples of those who call on His name baptizing them and teaching them to teach others the wonders of His works, Living so as to bare witness of the glories of His grace and the assurance of His hope.

In what follows, through a series of posts, we shall unpack this statement and seek to obtain principles that will guide our efforts and attempt gain a vision of the kingdom that will inspire our hearts to action.  We will begin by turning our focus to the “Going” and attempt to answer the questions of: Where to go?; When to go?; and finally Why we are going?  We will then focus on the “Making” and attempt to answer the questions of: Who are we making?; How are they being made?; and finally Why we are making disciples?  We will conclude this discussion by focusing on the “Living,” we will we will seek to apply the promise of Christ’s great commission on our lives and examine how His hope inspires our witness.


[1] Psalm 67:1-2

 [2] Hab. 2:14

[3] Acts 1:8

 [4] Matt. 28:19-20a