“When everything is mission, nothing is mission.”
This Stephen Neill quote elicited a positive wave of wows, yesses, and amens from a ballroom full of ministry partners as I delivered our State of the Ministry address.
It resonated with the room full of partners, pastors, missionaries, staff and friends because we can all see that each generation, denomination, and region the Church is operating under a different definition of missions. We’re passionately working to try and serve all the people and meet all the needs. The truth is, while we can do anything, we can’t do everything.
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Jesus made it really simple for us.
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15 (NIV)
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
After He did His ministry for 3 years, Jesus said, “Now you go. You do this ministry.”
When we look at how we’re doing—measured against the New Testament model of what mission does— the report card isn’t good. 1⁄3rd of the world has never heard the name of Jesus Christ. 82% of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims have never met a believer.
A recent Barna reports that nearly half of Millennials (47%) think it’s wrong to share their faith, and 65% fear to do so is offensive to others.
Jesus’ holistic mandate on mission is that we actively participate in Kingdom Come. Kingdom Come looks like justice coming into the world. Everything we do, from digging wells to addressing food security and sex trafficking, is a part of the Kingdom Come effort. Nevertheless, social justice without Jesus is no justice at all.
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Our mission is to share Jesus, making disciples and planting the local church. How are we doing in that area? When we have that in focus, then we can look at our particular purpose in the world in which we live. That’s where we find the essence of mission.
We’ll find our specific mission in God’s Kingdom Come economy when we re-prioritize everything we’re doing according to the New Testament model of what mission is. To do that requires 3 major shifts in focus:
75% of the global Church resides in the majority world, not in the west. Instead of being the sending entity, we must shift to a role supporting and partnering with apostolic leaders and church movements around the world.
Accept that the roll of the western Church has changed. We don’t need to send out generalist missionaries anymore, but embrace the fact that a national can do better (and cheaper) than we can to reach their indigenous populations.
When we seek Kingdom transformation, we need to get serious about what we measure, taking stewardship and ROI into account. We don’t have unlimited resources and we want to see true and lasting change happen, not simply measure effort.
To understand missions means to figure out what God is calling YOUR church to do in the area of making disciples of all nations, getting it really clear, and understanding that we live in a much different world than we did even 10 years ago.